Rohingya Conflict

[op-ed snap] Justice for the Rohingya


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Rohingyas - Human Rights violations


Last week’s preliminary hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking guarantees of basic protection for Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims offer only symbolic hope to the community. 

Plight of Rohingyas

  • Camps – thousands of Rohingyas are forcibly exiled in refugee camps in Bangladesh. It is necessary to demand accountability from Yangon. 
  • OIC – Gambia, on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, brought the case pertaining to genocide in 2017 committed by the Myanmarese military. 
  • Armed Forces – The forces have insisted that their actions were in response to the armed insurgency by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. 
  • UN highlights Human Rights – The UN and several rights groups have documented orchestrated incidents of torched villages, mass rape and other atrocities by the military, forcing over 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.
  • Citizenship rights – Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine state are particularly vulnerable due to the denial of citizenship and the reference by nationalist sections to them as illegal Bengali immigrants.
  • Suu Kyi – She asserted that the Army had acted proportionately in countering the rebels and accused Gambia of misrepresenting the situation.
  • Lack of testimony – the absence of an explicit reference to the Rohingya in her testimony is condemned. She has even been accused of choosing to argue the defence in person with an eye on the 2020 general election.


  • Not genocide – Lawyers representing Myanmar said that, though violent crimes were committed during the conflict, motives of genocide against the community could not be imputed against the authorities. 
  • The ICJ has handed down guilty verdicts in a few cases relating to crimes of genocide. It didn’t pin the blame directly upon states as in the 2007 ruling on the Bosnian war of the preceding decade.
  • Proof of genocide – The challenges of establishing conclusive proof of the intention to extirpate entire communities underlies this caution. 
  • The decision regarding genocide relating to the atrocities against the Rohingya is not expected immediately. 

Way ahead

The more urgent concern before the court is Gambia’s petition seeking an injunction that the violence against the community cease forthwith and the government guarantee immediate protection.

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