Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Military Against Genocide Charges

Excerpt of Bloomberg article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Following the speech, Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan said in a statement Suu Kyi’s depiction of an internal military conflict “with no genocidal intent against the Rohingya is completely false.”

“Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians,” Radhakrishnan said. “This is genocide and it’s precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent.”

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi says genocide claims are 'misleading'

Excerpt of CNN article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Following the presentation, the Global Justice Center said the picture Suu Kyi built up of an "internal military conflict with no genocidal intent" was "completely false."

"Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians. The government has discriminated against the Rohingya for decades. This is genocide and it's precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent," Akila Radhakrishnan, Global Justice Center President, said in a statement.

Many in the international community have questioned how a Nobel laureate renowned for fighting for democracy and human rights is now justifying her government's persecution of the Muslim minority.

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Rohingya refugees reject Aung San Suu Kyi's 'lies on genocide'

Excerpt of Al Jazeera article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Critics describe the army's actions by the army as a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee.

“Aung San Suu Kyi’s picture of an internal military conflict with no genocidal intent against the Rohingya is completely false," Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center in New York, said in a statement to Al Jazeera.

"Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians.

"The government has discriminated against the Rohingya for decades. This is genocide and it’s precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent.”

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U.N. high court begins 3-day hearing over Rohingya 'genocide' in Myanmar

Excerpt of UPI article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Along with Suu Kyi, several Rohingya members attended the first day, supported by human rights group Legal Action Worldwide. They arrived from a Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh.

Human rights groups say Rohingya were targeted with random killings, sexual violence, arbitrary detention and torture from Myanmar forces and supporters.

"The international community is many years too late on taking action in Myanmar, but this case represents the first hope in decades for the Rohingya and other persecuted ethnic groups in the country," Akila Radhakrishnan, of the Global Justice Center in New York, said before Tuesday's hearing.

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The Story Behind The Gambia’s Lawsuit against Myanmar over the Rohingya Genocide

Excerpt of Inter Press Service article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

“No one has been held accountable,” Akila Radhakrishnan, President of Global Justice Center (GJC), told IPS. “It’s the same forces [that] remain in Rakhine state, they remain kind of [as a] part of the military with no punishment. There’s no feeling that there’s safety and security to go back to Myanmar.”

Radhakrishnan pointed out that even though the lawsuit may be “far away” from when the crisis began, the continued fear of Rohingyas to return to their home shows how deeply the crisis persists. 

“I think there’s a recognition of the impossibility of the return of the Rohingya, a solution to the humanitarian crisis,” she said, adding that the lawsuit will push for the Myanmar government to take actions that focus on changing the laws and policies that enabled the genocide. 

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Suu Kyi to lead Myanmar team contesting genocide court case

Excerpt of Associated Press article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the New York-based Global Justice Center, said Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s civilian government “failed to act against genocide in Rakhine State with any level of urgency and have taken no steps to hold the military to account.”

“The international community should no longer have illusions where Suu Kyi and the civilian government stand and must act to support The Gambia and take other measures to hold Myanmar accountable,” Radhakrishnan said in a statement.

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Suu Kyi to defend Myanmar against genocide accusation at UN court

Excerpt of Al Jazeera article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which not only prohibits states from committing genocide but also compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, noted that Myanmar's civilian government had failed to act in 2017 and taken no steps to hold the military to account.

"Now, they are going to defend the military and the government's genocidal actions on one of the world's largest and most influential stages," Radhakrishnan said in a statement. 

"The international community should no longer have illusions where Suu Kyi and the civilian government stand and must act to support The Gambia and take other measures to hold Myanmar accountable."

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There can be no real accountability in Myanmar if women remain on the sidelines

Excerpt ofWomen's Media Center op-ed co-authored by GJC Senior Burma Researcher Phyu Phyu Sann.

Myanmar presents one of the world’s most difficult challenges to combating impunity, assisting victims, and reforming the institutions responsible for committing sexual violence and other crimes in conflicts. For years, women in Myanmar have called on the international community to intervene to put meaningful pressure on their human rights abusers. They are demanding an end to military control in the country and accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence and other egregious crimes against women.

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Urgency is Key for Rohingya Repatriation

Rohingya refugee women hold placards as they take part in a protest at the Kutupalong refugee camp to mark the one-year anniversary of their exodus in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Maggie Moore/USAID

By Nishan Kafle

Although the Rohingya of Burma have been subject to unrelenting government persecution for decades, it took an unprecedented form in 2017 when an estimated 530,000 Rohingya were violently driven from their home in Rakhine State in a military campaign that UN experts have called a genocide.

South Asia is no stranger to forced migration. Between 1991 and 1993, more than 100,000 Nepali speaking Bhutanese—commonly known as Lhotshampas—were forced out of Bhutan into Eastern Nepal. This was the result of the “One Nation, One People” policy, adopted in the 1980s, which aimed to shield the majority “Druk” Bhutanese identity from any Nepali influences. As a result, a mass exodus ensued with thousands of Bhutanese forced out of their homes into Eastern Nepal. Nepal, already a poor country under a strict monarchy, was ill-equipped to deal with such a great influx of refugees. And so, the Bhutanese were forced to live in squalid conditions under constant discrimination from people with whom they ostensibly shared a language and tradition.

Gender Inequality and Sexual Violence in Myanmar: Part of the Problem is Preventing a Cure

Excerpt ofMizzima op-ed by GJC Senior Burma Researcher Phyu Phyu Sann & GJC Special Counsel Michelle Onello.

When it comes to protecting women from violence in Myanmar, what little difference a year makes. Last year during the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the Government pledged to submit a Prevention of and Protection from Violence Against Women (PoVAW) Law to Parliament in early 2019 and give “priority and focus” to protecting women and children from violence.  As we approach another 16 Days of Activism, the PoVAW law, in the drafting stage since 2013, has not yet been submitted to Parliament, making clear that protecting women from violence is far from a priority or focus for the current Government.

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Episode 12 – Genocide and gender with Akila Radhakrishnan

Excerpt of Asymmetrical Haircuts podcast episode that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

We grabbed Akila Radhakrishnan – the president of the Global Justice Center based in New York, an international human rights organisation focused on gender equality and the rule of law, that’s been at the centre of all the lobbying for this move. 

Their special interest is in the gendered nature of genocide – check out their reports The Rohingya from Discrimination to Destruction– and Beyond Killing by the amazing Sareta Ashraph.

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The Gambia Files Lawsuit Against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice

NEW YORK — Today the government of the Republic of Gambia filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar for violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention. This historic lawsuit seeks to ensure Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for the genocide committed against the Rohingya.

Starting in October 2016 and then again in August 2017, Myanmar’s security forces engaged in so-called “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State. The operations were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations that, according to UN investigations, amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. Survivors reported indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and torture. Since August 2017 more than 745,000 ethnic Rohingya civilians have been forcibly displaced from Myanmar, with nearly 400 Rohingya villages attacked and burned.

The clearance operations followed decades of systematic persecution of the Rohingya by the government. Over the course of decades, Myanmar has rendered most its Rohingya population stateless through discriminatory laws, and placed severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, fundamental religious freedom as well as reproductive and marital rights.

In September, the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) concluded in its final report that “the State of Myanmar breached its obligation not to commit genocide” and welcomed efforts to ensure accountability, including at the ICJ.

The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and rules on disputes between states and other questions of international law. Article IX of the Genocide Convention provides that any disputes relating to the “interpretation, application or fulfillment” of the Convention, including “the responsibility of a State for genocide,” can be brought to the ICJ. For more information on the ICJ process, see “Q&A: The Gambia v. Myanmar, Rohingya Genocide at The International Court of Justice.”

As a party to the Genocide Convention, The Gambia refused to stay silent in the face of genocide and today took an important step in filing a case against Myanmar at the ICJ. As part of its filing, The Gambia requested the ICJ to issue provisional measures which, if granted, could impose immediately binding obligations on Myanmar.

“We commend The Gambia for upholding its international responsibility to punish genocide,” said Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. “The international community failed to prevent a genocide in Myanmar, but it is not too late to hold the State of Myanmar accountable for its crimes.”

"The Gambia’s lawsuit is a landmark moment for the global rule of law and for the victims of some of the most severe human rights abuses in recent memory,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center. “We must also remember that gender played a central role in this genocide and we hope this perspective will be at the heart of this critical effort to hold the state of Myanmar accountable for its atrocities.”

MEDIA CONTACT:
Thomas Dresslar, Global Justice Center, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +1 212-725-6530 x217
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Q&A: The Gambia v. Myanmar – Rohingya Genocide at The International Court of Justice

Starting in October 2016 and then again in August 2017, Myanmar’s security forces engaged in so-called “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State, Myanmar. The operations, in particular those that started in August 2017, were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations on a mass scale. Survivors report indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, torture, beatings, and forced displacement. Reports have also shown that security forces were systematically planning for such an operation against the Rohingya even before the purported reason for the violence — retaliation for small scale attacks committed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) — occurred. As a result, an estimated 745,000 people — mostly ethnic Rohingya — were forced to flee to Bangladesh.

According to the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar(FFM), the treatment of the Rohingya population during the “clearance operations” amounts to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the commission of which evokes specific obligations and responsibility under international law.

On November 11, 2019, The Republic of The Gambia filed suit against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) for violating the Genocide Convention. This momentous lawsuit brings a critical focus to Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for genocide and compliments ongoing investigations into individual accountability. This fact sheet answers fundamental questions about the ICJ case, and seeks to clarify available avenues for justice for the crimes committed against the Rohingya population.

 
   

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Myanmar might finally be held accountable for genocide, but the court case must recognise sexual violence

Excerpt ofThe Conversation US article that cites GJC's "That's Illegal" podcast and a speechby President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Myanmar might finally be held accountable, but defending the Rohingya from genocide shouldn’t just be left to the global Islamic community. They need to be joined by countries with an interest in reducing the sexual and gender based violence at the core of the Tatmadaw’s genocidal campaign.

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Read Akila Radhakrishnan's Speech at UNGA74 Side Event on the Rohingya Crisis

"A Pathway to a Sustainable Solution to the Rohingya Crisis"
Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations

Text of Prepared Remarks

Thank you Simon. And thank you Minister Momen, Minister Tambadou for your leadership. It’s an honor to participate in this event with you both. As Simon mentioned, I am the President of the Global Justice Center, an international human rights organization dedicated to advancing gender equality through the rule of law. We combine legal analysis with strategic advocacy to ensure equal protection of the law for women and girls.

My organization has worked in Burma since 2005, largely on issues of justice and accountability, including for military-perpetrated sexual violence against ethnic women. As a result, we are all too familiar with the place we find ourselves in today: seeking to find ways to end to conflict and restore peace, break the cycle of impunity for horrific crimes perpetrated by the military against an ethnic minority, and a find path forward to true democratic transition in Burma.

A Pathway to a Sustainable Solution to the Rohingya Crisis

From September 29, 2019 6:00pm until 7:30pm ET

Hosted by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations in partnership with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, this side event during the 74th UN General Assembly is on a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis. The event will address the international crimes committed against the Rohingya – genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – and will examine current accountability efforts, including at the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court.

Speakers:

  • Abubacarr M. Tambadou, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia 
  • Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
  • Akila Radhakrishnan, President, Global Justice Center
  • Simon Adams, Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Documents Genocide and Calls for International Justice in Final Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK — Today the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released its final report, summarizing its investigation into what it called “the gravest crimes under international law” committed against vulnerable populations in the country, including the Rohingya. The report explicitly calls for international legal accountability for violations of the Genocide Convention.

Established in 2017, the mission has thoroughly documented genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes carried out by the military and security forces in Myanmar and has consistently called on the international community to act. To that end, the final report applauded efforts by UN Member States such as The Gambia, who are potentially pursuing a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in line with their obligations under the Genocide Convention.

“The Fact-Finding Mission has been a tremendous advocate for international accountability in Myanmar, which remains the only true path to justice for victims of gross human rights violations, including genocide,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “As its mandate ends, it is essential that the international community take the mission’s recommendations seriously and take urgent action to break the culture of impunity in Myanmar.”

The Global Justice Center and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect met with Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubaccar M. Tambadou, and other senior officials in The Gambia earlier this month to discuss efforts to hold Myanmar accountable under the Genocide Convention. For more information on how an ICJ case might proceed, see this Q&A.

“We thank the Fact-Finding Mission for its crucial work and commend The Gambia for seeking to uphold its international responsibility to punish genocide,” said Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. “In 2017 the international community failed to prevent a genocide in Myanmar. But it is not too late to protect the Rohingya from further persecution and ensure that the perpetrators of these atrocities face international justice.”

“This week, world leaders will come together in New York for the start of the United Nations General Assembly. Action on Myanmar — whether sanctions, a referral to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council, or the creation of an ad-hoc tribunal — must be a priority," said Radhakrishnan.

The International Criminal Court Can Help End Impunity for Gender-Based Violence in its Investigation of the Rohingya

Rohingya refugee women hold placards as they take part in a protest at the Kutupalong refugee camp to mark the one-year anniversary of their exodus in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Also published by Ms. Magazine

By Katherine Comly

Ask any feminist how they think their government is doing at holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable and most would respond with an emphatic “poorly”— at best. Internationally, there are moves being made to tackle sexual violence, like awarding the Nobel Prize to Nadia Murad and passing the first Security Council Resolution on the issue. Still, they go nowhere near solving systemic problems.

There currently exists, however, a major opportunity to reform how the international justice system addresses sexual violence: the investigations into genocidal violence against the Rohingya in Burma. A gendered understanding of these crimes is essential and will fulfill the international community’s responsibility to recognize and punish all forms of genocidal violence.

Ending Impunity for Gender-Based Violence in Genocide

Excerpt ofMs. Magazine op-ed by GJC Legal Intern Katherine Comly.

Ask any feminist how they think their government is doing at holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable and most would respond with an emphatic “poorly”—at best. Internationally, there are moves being made to tackle sexual violence, like awarding the Nobel Prize to Nadia Murad and passing the first Security Council Resolution on the issue. Still, they go nowhere near solving systemic problems.

There currently exists, however, a major opportunity to reform how the international justice system addresses sexual violence: the investigations into genocidal violence against the Rohingya in Burma. A gendered understanding of these crimes is essential and will fulfill the international community’s responsibility to recognize and punish all forms of genocidal violence.

Read the Full Op-Ed