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Citizens’ Commission to interview 10,000 Rohingya for investigating genocide in Myanmar

Members of the Citizens' Commission are seen recording testimonies of the Rohingya refugees who have taken shelter in Bangladesh fleeing violence carried out by Myanmar military (Photo: Tarek Mahmud/ Dhaka Tribune)

By Tarek Mahmud
October 21, 2017

Justice Shamsul Huda and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik were made the chairman and the member secretary of the commission respectively

The Citizens’ Commission has started recording statements of 10,000 Rohingya refugees, who have taken shelter at different camps in Cox’s Bazar, in a bid to collect more substantial evidence of the genocide taking place in Myanmar.

The 35-member committee named Citizens’ Commission for Investigating Genocide and Terrorism in Burma is comprised of eminent individuals including former justices, security specialists and intellectuals

“We are collecting the statements of Rohingyas as a part of investigating genocide and terrorism in Myanmar that led about 600,000 Rohingya people to flee to Bangladesh,” Major General (Retd) Abdur Rashid, a member of the commission, told the Dhaka Tribune.

The commission members visited the Rohingya camps at Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas in Cox’s Bazar on Saturday. During their visit, the members themselves had interviewed a number of Rohingya refugees and provided questionnaires to their volunteers for collecting statements from the refugees, Maj Gen (R) Rashid said.

Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee President Shahriar Kabir declared the formation of the commission at a press conference at Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka on October 11.

The commission was formed to investigate genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar military against the Rohingya people.

Justice Shamsul Huda and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik, two former judges of the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, were made the chairman and the member secretary of the commission respectively.

Shahriar Kabir said: “We will be working at the camps on Saturday and Sunday to record statements of Rohingya refugees.”

Kazi Mukul, general secretary of Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee is looking after the coordination of the entire commission.

“We are also talking with the government agencies, like-minded organisations and individuals,” Security Expert Maj Gen (R) Md Ali Shikder told Dhaka Tribune.

“We are working to prove that Rohingyas, as per the international law and several UN conventions, are citizens of Myanmar. The commission is investigating the reasons behind the continuous persecution and deportation of the Rohingyas and aimed to lay out a solution for it.”

“The commission is working independently while the Nirmul Committee is providing necessary assistance,” said Shahriar Kabir.

Shahriar said they also took an initiative to form an international commission for implementing the recommendations of the citizen commission, and also for bringing a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.

The international commission, comprising legal experts, intellectuals and rights activists will take a decision about taking the Myanmar government to the International Criminal Court.

“We hope the international commission will be formed in the first week of December in Geneva,” he said; adding that it needed to create an international consciousness over “the genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Myanmar” and to pressurise the United Nations to take effective measures.

The commission has a plan to visit Myanmar if the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar permit and they have already talked with the Bangladesh state minister for foreign affairs about the issue.

The committee members hope they will publish their report within the next three to four months. They are determined whether genocide and crimes against humanity were committed against Rohingyas in Myanmar and if committed, then identify the responsible persons.

Former justices Mohammad Mumtaz Uddin Ahmed, Nizamul Haque Nasim and Kazi Ebadul Haque; journalist Muhammad Shafiqur Rahman; Professor Muntassir Mamoon; Professor Kamrul Hasan Khan; Professor Ajoy Roy; rights activist Ashok Barua and former inspector general of police Nurul Anwar, Professor Anisuzzaman, former law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed, Sanghanayaka Suddhananda Mahathero, former justice Syed Amirul Islam, Professor Burhanuddin Khan Jahangir, Professor Anupam Sen, journalist Kamal Lohani, writer Professor Hasan Azizul Haque, artist Hashem Khan and advocate Rana Dasgupta are among the members of the commission.

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