Myanmar has done nothing credible to improve the situation for the Rohingya in Rakhine state of Myanmar, said Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights yesterday, a day ahead of the deadline for Myanmar, as asked by UN top court, to submit its first report today on actions taken to prevent genocide against the Rohingya.
"We have still not seen any credible evidence of Myanmar improving the situation for the Rohingya at all," said Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) in a statement.
Those inside Myanmar are still living in apartheid conditions and subject to the same – if not worse – restrictions they have lived under for years now, including those on their freedom of movement, access to health, education, and livelihoods, it said.
"After all the pressure Myanmar has faced on this issue, how are we still at this point?" said Charles Santiago, APHR Chair and a member of Malaysian parliament.
In the preliminary ruling of the Gambia versus Myanmar case on 23 January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that there is a serious risk of genocide against the Rohingya and ordered Myanmar to implement provisional measures to prevent all acts of genocide.
It also requires Myanmar to preserve evidence of crimes that could amount to genocide. These provisional measures are legally binding and require Myanmar to provide a report on their progress by 23 May, and a follow-up every six months thereafter.
The Gambia filed the case against Myanmar late last year, more than two years after some 750,000 Rohingya fled a brutal military crackdown in Rakhine and took shelter in Bangladesh since August 2017.
Myanmar on April 8 issued two presidential directives to ensure that its staff, military or security forces and others under its control "do not commit" acts defined in the Genocide Convention. The orders also prohibit destruction or removing any evidence of genocidal acts.
Charles Santiago said Myanmar's directives mean nothing if there are no concrete measures being implemented on the ground to dismantle the system of apartheid and discrimination against the Rohingya.
"If Myanmar is serious about complying with the ICJ, an absolute start point must be lifting the government-imposed internet blackout in Rakhine and Chin states," he said.
Presently, APHR said, all civilians living in Rakhine are caught in the midst of the intensifying conflict between the Tatmadaw and Arakan Army, in which hundreds have been killed and wounded, and more than 157,000 people displaced.
APHR has also called on Asean to urge Myanmar to protect civilians in the conflict, and tackle the root causes of the crisis by taking a rights-based approach and to implement the recommendations from the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine.
Asean must urge Myanmar to cooperate with international accountability mechanisms to ensure justice for the Rohingya, APHR said.
"After decades of oppression, violence and restrictions on the rights of the Rohingya, the international community cannot continue to watch the Myanmar authorities act with impunity. It may be years before the ICJ comes up with a final judgment, so in the meantime, Asean leaders must urge Myanmar to implement genuine reform," said Chamnan Chanruang, an APHR member and former Thai MP.
Meanwhile, AP reported, Myanmar says it will submit a report due today outlining its claims of compliance with an order from the ICJ to protect members of its Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority, but refused to discuss its contents before submitting it.