Rohingya campaigners launch Myanmar boycott

The Free Rohingya Coalition begins ‘Boycott Myanmar Campaign’ in the face of genocide hearings at the ICJ.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh following the brutal crackdown by the military in August 2017 [File: Dar Yasin/AP]

Human rights campaigners supporting Myanmar’s Rohingya mainly Muslim minority have called for a global boycott of the country, a day before genocide hearings begin at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

The Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) said in a statement on Monday it was starting the “Boycott Myanmar Campaign” with 30 organisations in 10 countries. It called on “corporations, foreign investors, professional and cultural organizations to sever their institutional ties with Myanmar”.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh following the brutal crackdown by the military in August 2017, which United Nations investigators have concluded was carried out with “genocidal intent”.

The FRC statement added that the campaign was intended to “to bring to bear economic, cultural, diplomatic and political pressure on Myanmar’s coalition government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the military”.

“We are doing this to correct the wrongdoings of Myanmar government and military…not because we hate our fellow Burmese,” Ro Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya Muslim and cofounder of the FRC, told Al Jazeera.

“We want to see our country as a developed country but as the investments are financing the genocide we are compelled to do this,” he added.

Myanmar at The Hague

Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday, is set to defend her country’s record during three days of hearings initiated after a lawsuit was filed by the Gambia in November.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s office posted a picture of her arrival at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport where she was greeted by the ambassador to the Netherlands and then headed to The Hague, where the World Court is located.

Aung San Suu Kyi has come under severe criticism in recent years for her unwillingness to speak out on the Rohingya crisis, despite the Myanmar military’s violent campaign against the minority group. 

Several demonstrations are planned in the coming days in the Dutch city by Rohingya survivor groups, as well as by government supporters.

The Gambia filed the suit on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, in which Buddhist-majority Myanmar is accused of genocide, the most serious international crime, against its Rohingya minority.

During three days of hearings, its legal team will ask the 16-member panel of UN judges at the ICJ to impose “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingya before the case can be heard in full.

Aung San Suu Kyi‘s office said last month that she would lead her country’s team in The Hague to “defend the national interest”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies