Gambia has filed its case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the alleged genocide of the Rohingya in a move widely hailed by the Muslim minority group, as well as refugee host country Bangladesh.
Over 500 pages, the memorial submitted Friday also includes more than 5,000 pages of supporting materials, while Rohingya rights groups have urged Myanmar to immediately comply with earlier ICJ orders to prevent ongoing acts of genocide and preserve evidence of genocide against Rohingya Muslims.
On Jan. 23, 2020, the ICJ unanimously passed legally binding provisional measures requiring the Southeast Asian nation to take all steps within its power to prevent acts of genocide, including killings, affliction of serious mental or bodily harm and other acts listed in the Genocide Convention.
"Today [the memorial] is another step towards justice for Rohingya," said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at civil rights group Fortify Rights, in a reaction, adding: "International accountability mechanisms, like the ICJ, are crucial, especially given that mass atrocity crimes continue against Rohingya and others in Myanmar."
An estimated 600,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine State, Myanmar, where they face ongoing genocide, Fortify Rights said in a statement on Friday.
It accused Myanmar authorities of continuing to commit human rights violations against the Rohingya even after the provisional measures, confining more than 125,000 Rohingya in over 20 internment camps.
In November 2019, Gambia opened the case at the ICJ against Myanmar for failing to prevent or punish acts of genocide against Rohingya Muslims.
Myanmar will now file a counter-memorial at the ICJ on July 23, 2021, in response to Gambia's allegations.
Ro Nay San Lwin, rights activist and co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, welcomed the move and urged the global community to extend support for Gambia.
"Despite the orders of the International Court of Justice, the Myanmar government and military continue its horrific persecution against Rohingya in Rakhine state. There is the continuation of armed conflict in Rakhine state. Rakhine and Rohingya villagers have been badly impacted," he told Anadolu Agency.
"Local authorities use COVID-19 as a pretext to persecute more. Many Rohingya have been killed amid fighting between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army. The Myanmar military is using Rohingya as human shields during the fight with Arakan Army," he said, asserting that Myanmar was not complying with the ICJ orders.
Mohammad Shamsu Douza, a Bangladeshi commissioner for refugee relief and repatriation, also welcomed Gambia's memorial, reassuring that Bangladesh would "provide all possible support to the case against the persecution of Rohingya people in the ICJ."
He also urged the international community to stand with Gambia to secure justice for the Rohingya to increase "pressure" on Myanmar to halt atrocities against the group and repatriate its roughly 1.2 million displaced members currently taking shelter in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.
However, he added that "Bangladesh's ultimate target was the safe and dignified repatriation of Rohingya to their home country, Myanmar."/aa