(Chicago, IL 6/20/2018) – Rohingya victims from the village of Tula Toli in Myanmar have made observations to the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) detailing atrocities committed by the Myanmar army in the summer of 2018.
On April 9, 2018 the ICC Prosecutor requested the Court to confirm that it has jurisdiction over the forced deportation of Rohingya victims from Myanmar into Bangladesh. The victims’ observations, filed on Monday, June 18, respond to the Prosecutor’s request. The victims support the Prosecutor and ask the Court to declare that it has jurisdiction over the crimes of deportation, apartheid, persecution and genocide which have been committed against them by the Myanmar military.
The village of Tula Toli in Maungdaw township, northern Rakhine State, was the site of an organized and horrific massacre on August 30, 2017. Rohingya villagers were surrounded by the military. The men were beaten, stabbed and shot, then thrown into mass graves and set alight. Women describe how their children were snatched from their arms and thrown into the flames or the river. The women were taken into houses and systematically raped, then beaten senseless; the houses were then set on fire with the women inside, left to burn to death.
In their observations to the ICC the victims describe the attack in detail. They also explain the decades of systematic persecution they have faced as Rohingya and the reasons why they are currently unable to return safely to Myanmar. The observations argue that these facts show that the crimes committed against the victims, including deportation, apartheid, persecution and genocide, did not end when they entered Bangladesh but are continuing even today. They go on to urge the Court to take into account the objective of deterring international crimes when making its decision. This is particularly important for the Rohingya victims in Bangladesh, because they will only be able to return safely to their homes if Myanmar ceases committing these crimes.
"This filing at the ICC represents a major step forward in the effort to bring accountability to Myanmar,” said Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of Burma Task Force. “For years now the government and military have ignored international demands for investigation into its crimes against the Rohingya. Now, this support for the ICC prosecutor from Rohingya themselves provides strong evidence that the ICC can claim jurisdiction over the regime's crimes and apply the pressure needed to bring them to justice."
The lawyer representing the victims before the ICC, Megan Hirst, said: “The ICC was established to prevent the most serious international crimes by ending impunity for them. This is the clearest possible example of a case in which that prevention is necessary. Without accountability there is every reason to believe that Myanmar will continue its persecution of the Rohingya, making their safe return impossible. If the Court is to be true to its objectives it must act.”
Ms Hirst is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London, specializing in victims’ participation in international criminal trials. She can be contacted for comments at email@example.com or +44- 20-7407-1313. The victims’ legal representation has been funded by Burma Task Force, a North American coalition of organizations advocating for Rohingya rights. Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Burma Task Force, can be contacted at 1-312-750-1178 (o) or 1-312-804-1962 (c), or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 2012 and representing a coalition of 38 U.S. and Canadian Muslim Organizations, Burma Task Force is the only organization fully dedicated to ending the genocide in Myanmar.