Wa back State Counsellor’s plan to confront ICJ lawsuit

Source : Myanmar Times
View Count : 324
Dec 02, 2019

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) welcomed the decision by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to lead a team of legal experts to defend Myanmar against accusations of genocide in Rakhine State at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“The UWSA lauds the State Counsellor’s plan to visit The Hague to protect the Union’s dignity,’’ the ethnic armed group said in a statement on Friday.

“Any bias or improper international intervention could lead to further instability and confusion in Rakhine State because the situation ... involves land, religion, culture, politics, business, and the military,” it said.

It added that the Wa would oppose any unjustified resolution against Myanmar by the UN’s highest court.

Another ethnic armed group, the National Democratic Alliance Army, which controls Mine Lar Special Region 4, also expressed support for the State Counsellor.

“The case against Myanmar affects Special Region 4 in northern Shan State,’’ it said in a statement. “We urge the international organisations to listen to the voice of Myanmar.”

However, three ethnic armed groups that have recently engaged in armed clashes with government troops expressed support for the case against Myanmar.

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Arakan Army, and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army – who are members of the Northern Alliance – also welcomed the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate allegations of genocide committed against the Muslim minority in northern Rakhine.

They urged the two judicial bodies to find out the truth behind the charges and offered to provide evidence of genocidal acts perpetrated by government forces.

The three groups said that during the past 70 years of armed fighting, the Tatmadaw (military) has committed genocide, extrajudicial arrests, torture, massacres, abductions and the use of gang rape as instruments of war.

They are ready to cooperate with international organisations and collect evidence of war crimes by the military in north-eastern Shan and western Rakhine between 2009 and 2019, the alliance said.

Earlier last month, the armed ethnic groups that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement said they discussed the ICJ case during their meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

“We discussed ways to counter the internal and external attacks that try to damage the Union’s image,’’ the group said in a statement after the Peace Process Steering Team’s meeting from November 19 to 21.

“The Union’s problems are our affair,” said Colonel Sai Nguen, spokesperson of the Restoration Council of Shan State, which suspended participation in the national peace process last year over frustration with the slow pace of negotiations.

Another member of the group, the Karen National Union, urged the government to adhere to international human rights principles and standards.

The first public hearings on the genocide case, which was filed by Gambia on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, are set for December 10-12 at The Hague, Netherlands.

In August 2017, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched deadly attacks on security outposts in northern Rakhine, triggering a massive military campaign that caused 700,000 Rakhine Muslims to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. The international community accused Myanmar of committing genocide against the Muslims.

Most Myanmar people consider Rakhine Muslims illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although some have lived in northern Rakhine for generations.

The Myanmar government will answer the chage filed before the ICJ, as it is a member of the United Nations, said U Zaw Htay, spokesman of the President’s Office, but it will not respond to the case filed with the ICC, because it did not sign the statute that set up the international body.

The ICJ settles disputes between nations, while the ICC seeks to convict individuals responsible for crimes. Both courts are based in The Hague.

Another case filed against Myanmar in Argentina over incidents that happened in Rakhine from 2012 to 2018 required no response, officials said. The lawsuit targeted President Win Myint, the State Counsellor, Tatmadaw chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and former presidents Thein Sein and Htin Kyaw.

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