File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
In November last year, Gambia had brought the case against Myanmar to the International Court of Justice
Bangladesh has disbursed $500,000 to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as foreign ministers of the 57-nation grouping in their ongoing meeting initiated a fund raising campaign for its West African member Gambia’s legal battle against Myanmar over Rohingya genocide in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“We have already disbursed the fund to the OIC for supporting Gambia in its legal battle,” said Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the OIC Dr Mohammad Javed Patwary, who simultaneously serves as the ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Patwary, who leads Dhaka at OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in Niger, told BSS that the OIC General Secretariat by now opened a dedicated account for Gambia’s battle in ICJ while the West African nation also signalled urgent need for the fund.
“I call for urgent, voluntary and substantial contribution of the [OIC] member states for the legal case,” Gambia’s Justice Minister Dawda A Jallow said while presenting the latest update of the Rohingya case at the CFM, where the Rohingya crisis appeared to be the key agenda.
He said Gambia needed approximately $5 million to pay particularly the lawyers to run the case while it by now hired a reputed US-based law firm to stand by the prosecution side in the case.
But Jallow said “unfortunately” the law firm was yet to receive any significant payment for the legal services it rendered since September 2019 as “it is only this month that a sum of $300,000 was paid to the law firm, which is less than 10% of the amount owed them”.
The Gambian minister said the case was aimed to seek a conclusive and lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis and cautioned that all potential OIC interventions to ICJ regarding the Rohingya cause should be conducted in coordination with his country for the sake of the cause.
He warned that any uncoordinated OIC intervention could affect the case and “seriously complicate matters”.
OIC General Secretariat officials said apart from Dhaka, out of the 57 members, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Nigeria by now provided financial support to Gambia over the ICJ case involving Myanmar’s Muslim minority Rohingyas, over a million of whom were forced to take refuge in Bangladesh to evade the genocide.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen was scheduled to lead the Bangladesh delegation to OIC’s two-day crucial 47th CFM session that began on Friday but Covid-19 detection at the last minute forced him to scrap his scheduled Niger visit.
The crisis turned Bangladesh to be the abode of world’s single largest community of forcibly displaced people.
Over 1.1 million Rohingyas fled their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to take shelter in Bangladesh’s bordering Cox’s Bazar district and most of them arrived there since August 25, 2017 after the Buddhist majority East Asian country launched a ruthless military crackdown.
‘Pressure on Myanmar’
In November last year, Gambia had brought the case against Myanmar to the ICJ with the backing of OIC, Canada and the Netherlands while ICJ held its first hearing on December 10-12.
On January 23 last, the ICJ made the historic unanimous decision ordering provisional measures to prevent further acts of genocide against the Rohingyas in Myanmar.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen earlier this week told BSS in Dhaka that this CMF would add afresh pressure on Myanmar in the “accountability and justice front” and to take back their nationals from Bangladesh.
“The OIC took the Rohingya issue seriously . . . all the OIC members have been supporting us strongly over the issue in the United Nations,” he said.