The people responsible for the atrocities that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee Myanmar's Rakhine State will be held to account, an International Criminal Court (ICC) official said on Monday. Following a visit to Bangladesh refugee camps, the ICC's Phakiso Mochochoko said the fact that Myanmar is not a signatory to the Hague-based international court "will not in any way be a hindrance" to an investigation. "It may present a little bit of challenge for us in terms of investigation, but we have faced situations like this in the past, and we've been able to deal with them," the court's director of jurisdiction told reporters in the capital Dhaka.
Mochochoko made the comments after leading a delegation to Bangladesh's southeastern Cox's Bazar district, home to around 1 million Rohingya refugees. The delegation, however, clarified that its visit to the camps was not a part of any investigation but to collect insights for an ongoing assessment by the office of prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on whether to warrant a full investigation.
The Myanmar government has long been blamed for genocide against the minority Muslim Rohingya community in western Rakhine State. The huge exodus of Rohingya began in August last year after Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks by an insurgent group on guard posts. The scale, organization and ferocity of the operation led to accusations from the international community, including the U.N., of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Rohingya Muslims are the most persecuted minority in the world according to U.N. figures and continue to suffer from oppression under the Myanmar government, the army and Buddhist extremists. Over the past decade, thousands of Rohingya have been killed since violence broke out in 2008, causing hundreds of thousands to flee their homeland for Bangladesh, Malaysia and other countries in the region. At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine State from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, 2017, according to Doctors without Borders (MSF). In a report last December, the global humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent, or 6,700 Rohingya, were caused by violence. The death toll includes 730 children below the age of 5. Compiled from wires