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By Serajul Quadir 
June 12, 2018

DHAKA -- Landslides and related incidents triggered by pre-monsoon rain in southeast Bangladesh have killed at least 12 people since Monday, including two Rohingya Muslims, and the government said it was moving fast to relocate tens of thousands of people. 

The deaths happened in the districts of Cox’s Bazar and Rangamati - both bordering Myanmar from where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled a military crackdown - due to incessant rain over the past three days, government officials said on Tuesday. 

International aid agencies said there was a big risk of an outbreak of waterborne diseases in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, where nearly a million people live, mostly in shacks made of bamboo and plastic sheets that cling to steep, denuded hills. 

“Sodden and unstable hills have collapsed over the weekend, destroying latrines. At lower levels, water from flash floods is washing over latrines, carrying sludge through the camps,” said Sanjeev Kafley, head of the Cox’s Bazar office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. 

“We’re already seeing increases in acute water diarrhoea, and the risk of an outbreak of waterborne diseases is now a serious likelihood.” 

One of the two Rohingya casualties in Cox’s Bazar was a two-and-half-year-old boy who died when a mud wall fell on him and his mother. The injured mother is in hospital. A Rohingya man was killed when a tree, weakened by rainfall, fell on him. 

The number of Rohingya in Bangladesh has swelled since last August, when an army operation in Myanmar following Rohingya insurgents’ attacks on security forces prompted an exodus to Bangladesh. 

Mohammad Shamsuddoha, a senior official in Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commission, said that around 1,500 shacks have been damaged or destroyed since the weekend due to the rain. 

Nijhum Rokeya Ahmed, from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, said there was a possibility of medium to heavy rain over the next 24 hours that could trigger further landslides in districts like Rangamati and Cox Bazar. 

The government is working with international aid agencies to quickly relocate an initial group of 100,000 Rohingya from the camps, said Mohammad Shah Kamal, the top civil servant in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, who was visiting Cox’s Bazar. 

As of the first week of June, more than 28,000 refugees had been relocated, according to the Inter Sector Coordination Group that oversees relief work in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. 

Last week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said relocation was a challenge due to the lack of alternative flat land. Around 200,000 people have been identified as being at high risk. 

“Since we don’t have any place here we have to move them to Bhasan Char island and by September this year the relocation will be possible,” said Kamal, referring to the much-criticised plan to shift the Rohingya to a remote Bay of Bengal island being developed. 

In the hilly district of Rangamati, where 10 Bangladeshis have died, officials said rescue and relief teams were struggling to reach people due to difficult terrain. 

Reporting By Serajul Quadir in DHAKA; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in GENEVA; Editing by Krishna N. Das and Alex Richardson

A group of Rohingya refugees after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, September 1, 2017. Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

June 11, 2018

BANGKOK — A U.S. government-affiliated broadcaster that provides news to countries in Asia where freedom of information is restricted is losing its local partner in Myanmar after refusing demands that it stop using the term “Rohingya” to describe an oppressed Muslim minority.

Monday was the last day that the DVB Media Group’s network would carry its television broadcasts, said Radio Free Asia spokesman Rohit Mahajan. He said RFA told Myanmar authorities that it was unwilling to bow to their pressure to use a term other than Rohingya.

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the government launched a violent counterinsurgency campaign last August in western Myanmar, where most live. Many people in Myanmar call the Rohingya “Bengali” to reflect their contention that they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh rather than natives.

The government refuses to recognize the Rohingya as an official ethnic minority and denies most the right to citizenship and its privileges.

Myanmar is the second Southeast Asian nation in 10 months where RFA has lost access to local broadcasters. Cambodia last August prohibited local FM stations from carrying RFA programming, one of several actions restricting the media in what was seen as a move to silence critical voices ahead of a general election this July.

Mahajan said RFA had been broadcasting on DVB’s channel since early October last year. A May 7 memo about DVB’s case from the government broadcasting agency Myanma Radio and Television to private broadcasters said the direct use of the “controversial word ‘Rohingya’” was a violation of contractual codes to which broadcasters are bound.

A statement by RFA President Libby Liu provided Monday to The Associated Press declared that the U.S. broadcaster “will not compromise its code of journalistic ethics, which prohibits the use of slurs against ethnic minority groups. RFA will continue to refer to the Rohingya as the ‘Rohingya’ in our reports. Use of other terms, even those that fall short of being derogatory, would be inaccurate and disingenuous to both our product and our audience.”

“By forbidding the use of the word ‘Rohingya,’ Myanmar’s government is taking an Orwellian step in seeking to erase the identity of a people whose existence it would like to deny,” she said. “RFA will continue to provide audiences in Myanmar with access to trustworthy, reliable journalism, particularly when reporting on issues that local and state-controlled media ignores and suppresses.”

Spokesman Mahajan said RFA’s programming for Myanmar would remain available on its website, on Facebook and YouTube and on shortwave radio, and its reporters will continue to work in the country.

In Cambodia, the cessation of RFA broadcasts on local media last year was followed by the closing under pressure of its office and in November by the arrest of two of its former reporters on “espionage” charges that are generally considered to be trumped up as a way to intimidate the media.

RFA, which is loosely modeled on longtime broadcaster Radio Free Europe, carries broadcasts to China, Cambodia, North Korea, Laos and Vietnam as well as Myanmar. It is funded by the U.S. government but run by an independent board.

DVB — the Democratic Voice of Burma — was originally established in 1992 as a shortwave radio station in Norway to beam uncensored news to Myanmar when it was still under military rule. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its relationship with RFA.

Rohingya refugees build shelter with bamboo at the Jamtoli camp in the morning in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Jan. 22, 2018.

June 9, 2018

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled attacks in Myanmar said they were disappointed that a U.N. agreement signed earlier this week did not address one of their key demands: Citizenship.

Most refugees say they are desperate to go home, but fear going back unless they are given protection and citizenship.

On Wednesday, Myanmar and U.N. agencies signed an agreement that could —eventually — lead to the return of some of the 700,000 Rohingya who fled persecution in their homeland and are now crowded into makeshift camps in Bangladesh.

While the refugees welcomed the talks, they have also heard years of empty promises from the government in Yangon.

Mohammed Toiteb Ali, who fled brutal attacks last year that sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya across the border, said Yangon could first give citizenship to the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar.

"When we are assured by seeing and knowing that they are enjoying their citizenship, then we will go back," Ali said Friday, while strolling through the crowded market of the Kutupalong refugee camp.

Many said they would not be truly happy with an agreement unless it announces that the Rohingya will get citizenship and the return of the property they lost in the pogroms.

"When the whole world will see this, when we will see these developments, then we will go back," said Mohammed Syed, another refugee who fled last year.

U.N. officials have called the agreement an important first step in complex discussions.

The agreement signed Wednesday will create a "framework of cooperation" designed to create conditions for "voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable" repatriation of the Rohingya. It does not address Myanmar's denial of citizenship to the Rohingya.

Myanmar officials say they hope the agreement will speed up repatriation, but rights groups doubt Yangon will let many Rohingya go back, or if officials can guarantee the safety of those who do.

Myanmar's statement didn't use the word "Rohingya," reflecting the insistence by the government and the country's Buddhist majority that the ethnic group doesn't even exist. Most people in Myanmar view the Rohingya as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, though some have lived in the country for centuries, before modern borders existed. The agreement described the refugees as "displaced persons."

Myanmar security forces have been accused of laying waste to Rohingya villages last year in Rakhine state, near the Bangladesh border, where most Rohingya lived. The military's self-proclaimed "clearance operations" were set off by a Rohingya militant group's assault on police posts.

The U.N. and the U.S. have described the military campaign as "ethnic cleansing."

U.N. officials note that the Wednesday agreement gives its agencies access to Rakhine state, allowing it to better assess the situation and inform refugees about conditions back in their villages.

By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet 
June 9, 2018

Return of Rohingya refugees could potentially result in another round of mass killings: Maung Zarni and Natalie Brinham

ANKARA -- Rohingya survivors of the Myanmar genocide are demanding a UN security force to guarantee their safe return to their homelands, terming the new agreement signed between Myanmar and the UN as inadequate, experts tell Anadolu Agency.

On June 6, the Myanmar government signed an agreement with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), allowing them to get involved in the much-delayed repatriation process.

Maung Zarni, coordinator for strategic affairs at the Free Rohingya Coalition, and Natalie Brinham, an economics and social research council Ph.D. scholar at the Queen Mary University of London, wrote an analysis piece for Anadolu Agency giving their views on the new agreement.

"One million Rohingya survivors of Myanmar genocide, who took refuge across the borders in neighboring Bangladesh, remain largely unpersuaded by the news of the latest repatriation deal the United Nations agencies have signed with their perpetrators in Naypyidaw, and openly call for 'UN Security Forces' to guarantee safe return to their homelands in the Western Myanmar state of Rakhine," they wrote.

The analysts said on June 6, two UN agencies with mandates for refugee protection and development inked a memorandum of understanding with the government of Myanmar.

However, the contents of the agreement were treated as if it were Myanmar’s top national security secret, they wrote.

"The conditions on the ground indicate no semblance of physical safety for any returning Rohingyas," the analysts said.

Zarni and Brinham added that there is also no indication that the official acceptance of Rohingya by Myanmar as an integral ethnic minority of the union is forthcoming. 

Reintegration prospect low

"And there is little prospect for their reintegration into the predominantly Buddhist society where the most powerful Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing publicly declared his genocidal intent, that Rohingya presence in N. Rakhine was 'unfinished business' from the pogroms of WWII," they said.

"In addition to the frightening prospects of being marched back to Myanmar’s 'killing fields', what has unnerved Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh -- thousands have been in refugee camps in Bangladesh since the early 1990’s as they fled the earlier waves of violent persecution -- about this latest UN-Myanmar refugee deal is this: UN agencies -- UNDP, UNHCR, World Food Program (WFP) -- have a dismal record when it comes to standing up for the Rohingya in the last 40 years since UNHCR first became involved in the repatriation process in the summer of 1978."

Zarni and Brinham said the UN’s reputation -- and most specifically the reputation of UNHCR and UNDP -- is on the line in Myanmar, and beyond.

"Any part they play in facilitating returns from Bangladesh to Myanmar is risky -- when returns could potentially result in another round of mass killings, further decades of containment in concentration camps or deliberate slow starvation," they said.

The analysts urged the UN agencies to place protection and human rights first this time around.

"The signs of a new secretive deal don’t bode well for the Rohingya survivors. The newly-managed UN in Myanmar has even shelved the organization’s own governing principles, namely transparency and inclusivity, as evidenced in the freshly-inked MoU with Myanmar," they said.

Zarni and Brinham added Myanmar is now suspect in the eyes of the International Criminal Court and international law circles.

"In apparent compliance with the demands for secrecy typically made by Myanmar’s military-controlled NLD-government, the UN has not made public the MoU for scrutiny. Neither has the UN included Rohingyas in any stage of the negotiations over the MoU, nor spelled out their future role," they said. 

'Listen to Rohingya voices'

The analysts said the UNHCR had added a fourth adjective, “sustainable”, to the mainstreamed mantra of “voluntary, safe and dignified”.

"To make the fourth adjective viable, the UN must listen to Rohingya voices that call for a protected return to a protected homeland in Myanmar."

Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to Amnesty International.

At least 9,400 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24 last year, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published recently, the humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

By Ayhan Simsek 
June 8, 2018

Political parties urge Myanmar authorities to end human rights violations, recognize civil and political rights of Rohingya

Berlin -- The German parliament has called for an end to oppression and violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in a resolution adopted on Thursday night. 

The resolution, which earned overwhelming support by lawmakers, asked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government to use its influence on Myanmar authorities to stop human right violations in the country and recognize the rights of Rohingya.

“The Rohingya should be granted full civil and political rights, and the citizenship of Myanmar,” the joint resolution said, and urged for the “safe, voluntary and dignified return” of Rohingya Muslims.

The joint resolution was submitted by the ruling Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU), its coalition partner Social Democratic Party (SPD), opposition Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens. 

The socialist Left Party has also backed the resolution, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) voted against. 

Since August last year, some 750,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar amid a brutal crackdown by the country’s security forces.

At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Demonstrators in front of the European Union headquarters in Brussels call for an end to the genocide of Rohingyas in Myanmar's Rakhine State. File Photo: mostafigur rahman

June 7, 2018

Bangladesh has responded to the queries of the International Criminal Court or ICC over its jurisdiction to run a case against Myanmar in regard to the Rohingya issue.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam confirmed this to on Thursday.

He said it is in fact mandatory on Bangladesh to respond as it is a member of the Rome Statute.

“We have provided the information only as requested by the court,” he said, adding that Bangladesh is still committed to settle the matter “bilaterally”.

He pointed out that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina floated a five-point plan in New York last year “which is still on the table and we are committed”.

The ICC last month wrote to Bangladesh asking for its opinion on whether The Hague-based court has jurisdiction to run a case against its neighbour.

Myanmar is not a member of the criminal court.

The letter from the pre-trial chamber followed Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s application on Apr 9 when she asked the ICC to rule on whether it has jurisdiction over the deportations of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, a possible crime against humanity.

The pre-trial chamber 1 in the letter, a copy of which was with, invited the competent authorities of Bangladesh to submit written observations, either publicly or confidentially, on the three specific matters.

Those are:

(i) The circumstances surrounding the presence of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar on the territory of Bangladesh;

(ii) The possibility of the Court’s exercise of territorial jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh; and

(iii) Any other matter in connection with the prosecutor’s request that, in the opinion of the competent authorities of Bangladesh, would assist the Chamber in its determination of this Request.

“We have provided all the information they asked for and everything that we know from our experience,” State Minister Shahriar Alam said when asked, without clarifying whether Bangladesh suggested that the ICC try Myanmar.

He said Bangladesh “is a responsive and responsible state. Our action always guided by universal values and laws”.

Officials, however, earlier indicated that Bangladesh would cite precendences in which ICC tried non-members being recommended by the UN Security Council.

It happened in cases of Darfur in Sudan and Libya, paving the way for the trial Omar Al-Bashir and Muammar Gaddafi.

Earlier, Myanmar government expressed “serious concern” on the news about the application by the ICC prosecutor.

Since August last year, nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar, the United Nations and aid agencies have said.

The refugees have reported killings, rape and arson on a large scale. The United States and the United Nations have described the situation as ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar has denied nearly all allegations, saying it waged a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

Rohingya houses in Rakhine State set on fire allegedly by the Myanmar Army, Sept 11, 2017. Photo: mostafigur rahman

The government has said the army crackdown was provoked by the attacks of Rohingya militants on more than two dozen police posts and an army base last August.

An ICC ruling affirming jurisdiction could pave the way for Prosecutor Bensouda to investigate the deportation of many thousands of Rohingya.

“This is not an abstract question but a concrete one, affecting whether the Court may exercise jurisdiction ... to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute,” Bensouda said in the filing.

The main reason for doubts about the jurisdiction is that while Bangladesh is a member of the court, but Myanmar is not.

Bensouda argued that given the cross-border nature of the crime of deportation, a ruling in favour of ICC jurisdiction would be in line with established legal principles.

The court said the observations of the Bangladesh authorities would assist the chamber in its determinations of the request sub judice.
Rohingya refugees are reflected in rain water along an embankment next to paddy fields after fleeing from Myanmar into Palang Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

By Antoni Slodkowski
June 6, 2018

YANGON -- Safety and “identity” need to be in place for Rohingya Muslim refugees who return to Myanmar, the head of the United Nations in the country said on Wednesday, as Myanmar and U.N. agencies signed an outline deal on returns.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the government and U.N. development and refugee agencies - the UNDP and the UNHCR - marks a warming of ties which hit a low point last year after the government suggested some agencies provided food to Rohingya militants. 

The head of the United Nations in Myanmar, Knut Ostby, said he hoped U.N. staff would be able to travel to the violence-ravaged north of Rakhine State “almost immediately” to assess the situation and - over time - to help the refugees in Bangladesh make an informed decision about potential returns. 

Since August, about 700,000 Rohingya have fled an army crackdown in Myanmar, many reporting killings, rape and arson on a large scale. The United Nations has called the campaign a textbook example of “ethnic cleansing” - a charge Myanmar denies. 

U.N. officials have said for months the conditions in Myanmar were “not conducive” to returns which would be safe, voluntary and dignified and view Wednesday’s deal as a first step towards meeting those objectives. 

“There are two really crucial things that need to be in place - one is to have an identity for the people who come back, so that they can live as normal members of society both in terms of an identity and in terms of being able to have the freedom of movement,” Ostby told Reuters by phone. 

“And the other issue is that they need to be able to live in safety. They should not have to risk further violence,” said Ostby, who serves as the U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar. 

Access to basic services, livelihoods and infrastructure would also have to be addressed, he said. 

Rohingya are widely called “Bengali” in Buddhist-majority Myanmar - which they see as a derogatory term implying they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They have been denied citizenship despite many tracing their roots in the country back generations.


Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has pressed the Rohingya to accept National Verification Cards - documents that are a part of government effort to register Rohingya, but which falls short of offering them citizenship. 

Rohingya community leaders have widely rejected the card, saying it treats life-long residents like new immigrants. 

Ostby, asked how the Wednesday agreement might help to resolve the issue of citizenship, said: “We have been talking for a long time about making a clear and predictable path to citizenship for those who are eligible.” 

But the granting of citizenship was the government’s prerogative, he said. 

“What we can do is to facilitate and we call for commitment to international principles,” said Ostby in his first detailed remarks on the text of the agreement, which has not been made public. 

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in January to complete the voluntary repatriation of the refugees within two years but differences between them persist, impeding implementation of the plan. 

The Myanmar government said in a statement after the signing it hoped the repatriation process would “hasten” with U.N. involvement. 

It said the UNHCR would help “in the implementation of the voluntary repatriation and the reintegration of all those who return”, while the UNDP would focus on preparing “conditions for recovery and resilience-based development”. 

Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Robert Birsel

An aerial view shows burned down villages once inhabited by the Rohingya seen from the Myanmar military helicopters that carried the U.N. envoys to northern Rakhine state, Myanmar, May 1, 2018. Picture taken on May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Michelle Nichols

By Stephanie van den Berg
May 31, 2018

THE HAGUE -- Hundreds of Rohingya victims have appealed to judges at the International Criminal Court to grant prosecutors jurisdiction to investigate deportations from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh, an ICC official said on Thursday.

The world’s first permanent war crimes court does not have automatic jurisdiction in Myanmar because it is not a member state, but the prosecutor in April asked the court to look into the Rohingya crisis and a possible prosecution through Bangladesh, which is a member. 

Since August, nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled a military crackdown in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, the United Nations and aid agencies have said. 

Refugees have reported killings, rape and arson on a large scale; some countries compared the situation to the widespread ethnic cleansing seen during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. 

“We are of Rohingya identity and we want justice,” the group said in a letter, demanding that the court take action. “We have been raped, tortured and killed.” 

It was signed with fingerprints of the victims, mostly illiterate women from rural communities. 

A submission on behalf of 400 victims was handed to the court on Wednesday, backing the earlier request from the ICC prosecutor for jurisdiction, spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said. 

The families asked the court to examine allegations not only of deportation but persecution and what they called genocide by the Myanmar military against the Muslim Rohingya minority. 

Myanmar has rejected the efforts to establish international jurisdiction over the matter. 

Lawyers representing a group called Shanti Molhila, or Peace Women, said the court should hear the case because some of the crimes were committed across the border in Bangladesh. 

In her request to judges, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda argued that the ICC had jurisdiction over the deportations because of the cross-border nature of the offence. 

Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Mark Heinrich

Tawakkol Karman

May 12, 2018

Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Yemen, yesterday said what Myanmar did to the Rohingyas was “genocide”.

“We have visited the Rohingya camps recently and talked with over a hundred women and girls who are victims of sexual violence,” she said at a symposium organised by Asian University for Women (AUW) in Chittagong.

“They described us the barbarity committed before their eyes... they witnessed their kids or parents being slaughtered and shot dead in front of their eyes...their houses were burnt in front of them.

“Thousands of Rohingya people have been compelled to leave their houses,” she said, terming these incidents “genocide”.

Tawakkol was addressing the symposium titled “A Bridge Towards Sustainable Development: Overcoming Threats to Survival” held in a hotel in the port city.

The first Yemeni Nobel laureate said the world is now facing a moral deterioration as genocide and violence are going on in its different parts in the absence of international community.

“More than 500,000 people have been killed in Syria because they said they wanted freedom,” she said.

Human beings deserve democracy and freedom, she said, adding, democracy is a must for development and development is essential for peace.

Tawakkol then urged the students of AUW to fight against corruption and for justice. “Corruption leads to poverty,” she said.

“Your victory begins through your leadership,” she said, adding, “Be a leader in every field you are contributing... if you want to change, lead the change.”

Pramila Patten, special representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual-Violence in Conflict and UN Under Secretary General, said sectarian violence has been left unpunished for a long time.

She said what Myanmar did to the Rohingyas was “war crime”.

“Many witnesses told me many girls and women were literally raped to death,” she said, adding, “Not a single soldier or commander has been made accountable for their offence.”

“I would like to congratulate both the government and the people of Bangladesh for saving the lives of the Rohingya people,” she said, urging the world to stand beside Bangladesh.

“It is not the problem of Bangladesh, it is the problem of international community and I think the ball is now in the court of the international community.”

Ismail Serageldin, former vice president of World Bank and founding director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, said the world should keep open the door for the refugees.

Izzeldin Abuelaish, a professor of the University of Toronto, termed the persecution of the Rohingyas “crime against humanity”.

“The Rohingyas have been living in Myanmar for decades. So, the Myanmar government should recognise them,” he said at the programme.

Kamal Ahmad, founder of AUW, and Prof Nirmala Rao, vice-chancellor of the university, also spoke among others.

May 9, 2018

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has wanted to know Bangladesh's opinion on whether The Hague-based court has jurisdiction to run a case on atrocities against Rohingyas.

The pre-trial chamber of the ICC has sent a letter in this regard on Monday and sought Bangladesh's opinion by June 11 either publicly or confidentially.

"The chamber hereby invites the competent authorities of Bangladesh to submit written observations, either publicly or confidentially, on the prosecutor's request no later than 11 June," reads the letter, a copy of which obtained by UNB.

The chamber invited the competent authorities of Bangladesh to submit written observations, either publicly or confidentially, on the three specific matters.

These are (i) the circumstances surrounding the presence of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar on the territory of Bangladesh; (ii) the possibility of the Court's exercise of territorial jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh; and (iii) any other matter in connection with the prosecutor's request that, in the opinion of the competent authorities of Bangladesh, would assist the chamber in its determination of this request.

The chamber ordered the registrar to notify this decision to the competent authorities of Bangladesh together with a copy of the prosecutor's request.

A senior official at the foreign ministry said the government received the letter and is considering the matter.

Reading the content of the letter, the official said, Bangladesh has been affected due to influx from Myanmar and the chamber thinks is it right to seek opinion from Bangladesh.

On 9 April, the prosecutor submitted her request in pursuant to regulation 46(3) of the regulations of the court and article 19(3) of the Rome Statute.

On 11 April, the president of the Pre-Trial Division assigned the prosecutor's request to the Chamber.

In the request, the prosecutor seeks a ruling from the chamber on the question whether the Court may exercise jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of more than 670,000 members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

The specific legal matter arising from this request is whether the court may exercise territorial jurisdiction over alleged acts of deportation of persons from the territory of Myanmar (a State not party to the Statute) into the territory of Bangladesh (a State party to the Statute.

Rule 103(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides that any stage of the proceedings, a chamber may, if it considers it desirable for the proper determination of the case, invite or grant leave to a State, organization or person to submit, in writing or orally, any observation on any issue that the chamber deems appropriate."

Bangladesh has been particularly affected by the events concerning the deportation of Rohingya people from Myanmar.

Accordingly, the chamber considers it appropriate to seek observations from the competent authorities of Bangladesh on the prosecutor's request.

Such observations would, in these particular circumstances, assist the chamber in its determination of the request sub judice.

Bangladesh currently has a Rohingya population, which is far more than Bhutan's entire population.

Bhutan has around 800,000 people whereas Bangladesh had to give shelter to some 1.2 million Rohingyas.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation agreement on 23 November 2017. On 16 January, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on 'Physical Arrangement' which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.

The 'Physical Arrangement' stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation but the repatriation on the ground is yet to take place.

Rohingya Exodus