Rohingya Repatriation: Why is it a Crucial Factor in Myanmar's ICJ Case?
How Professor Phoebe Okawa argued that Repatriation Overrules Genocide Claims
With the International Court of Justice (ICJ) date looming on May 24th, Myanmar's junta finds itself caught in a whirlwind of urgency. Initially, they pleaded for a whopping 15-month extension beyond the original deadline, hoping to buy more time. However, their pleas fell on deaf ears as the Court decided to grant a significantly shorter extension of just over two months.
Panicking and realising the clock is ticking, Myanmar officials hastily embarked on a mission to kickstart a Pilot Repatriation process. Traveling via UNHCR boats, they made their way to Teknaf, Bangladesh. Their objective? To present a façade of progress and convince the world that repatriation efforts are in full swing.
But their carefully orchestrated plan hit a snag. Bangladesh, the reluctant host country for Rohingya refugees, put on a show of force as they "persuaded" twenty volunteers to visit the pilot project site, granting them a brief glimpse into the proposed repatriation process. Yet, to the profound disappointment of both Bangladesh and the junta, the volunteers delivered a resounding blow. Their unified voice echoed with unwavering determination, rejecting the terms offered as grossly inadequate and falling far short of what the resilient Rohingya community deemed acceptable.
In a typical move, the Bangladeshi National Security Intelligence (NSI) decided to fight back. Edited videos began circulating, showcasing Rohingya refugees seemingly clamouring to go back to Myanmar. However, these videos conveniently omitted the refugees' demand for full citizenship rights, a crucial element often overlooked in the repatriation discourse.
As the final hour approaches, the Camp-in-Charge of Camp 26 and his loyal cohorts took to pounding the narrow camp alleyways on 12 May, going door to door. Their mission? To propagate the virtues of repatriation, accompanied by promises of National Verification Cards (NVC) - the “genocide card” hated and emphatically rejected by the Rohingya.
The stage is set, tensions rise, and the stakes couldn't be higher. The junta's frantic rush to present a semblance of progress is evident. Will their last-ditch efforts be enough to sway international opinion and overshadow the underlying demands for justice and full citizenship rights? The countdown to the ICJ showdown continues….