**ROHINGYA LEGAL CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES IN LONDON’S AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL** 11 May 2018
Justice for Rohingya Minority (JFRM) launched on Wednesday 9 May at the Amnesty International Centre, London. The launch marks the first organised international step by a diverse group, including prominent Burmese and Rohingya leaders, to pursue legal avenues to bring those responsible for the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Ben Emmerson QC, Founder member of Matrix Chambers and judge of the Appeal Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, described JFRM as “an important move as this is the first time a victim community is mobilising to seek justice in the face of international indifference. The two key aims of accountability and reparations each pose challenges as the former requires the engagement of the state whereas communities can demand the latter.”
Jason McCue, lawyer and Founding Partner of McCue & Partners LLP, providing a legal hub and legal advice to the JFRM, said the campaign will “not only look at pursuing justice through traditional international platforms, but also through utilising universal jurisdiction in national forums. The JFRM will also explore actions targeting the regime and their international corporate partners who have benefited from the eviction of the Rohingya from their lands.”
Arakan-born (Rohingya) Nijam Uddin, who lived in a refugee camp in Bangladesh for 18 years after fleeing persecution in Myanmar talked about his own experience as a refugee camp survivor. He complained things had gone from bad to worse, “Rohingya have no right to own business, no freedom of movement; they cannot attend public schools and universities, and marriages have to be authorised by the regime – and you are not allowed to have more than two children.”
Kyaw Win, chairman of JFRM and who was born and raised in Myanmar emphasised “we need to focus on the safe and voluntary repatriation of the Rohingya people, and for human rights and protection against violence to be guaranteed. JFRM is committed to help realise these objectives and to keep the issue in the limelight until all the Rohingya are repatriated.”
Penny Green, Professor of Law and Globalisation and Director of the International State Crime Initiative, Queen Mary University, spoke in detail about the various stages involved in the formation of genocide against the Rohingya. She stressed the need for gathering and documenting evidence to establish the crime of genocide. “Genocide is not simply about horrific acts of violence or mass murder but include the annihilation of a culture and the memory of a people. The most recent wave of attacks, since 2017, has led to the mass annihilation of the Rohingya, making them almost extinct in Myanmar itself.”
Hornsey & Wood Green MP and a JFRM patron, Catherine West, explained in a written message that she had raised on many occasions the plight of the Rohingya during her time as Shadow Foreign Minister and now from the backbenches. “The UK Government should use its influence at the UN Security Council to seek legally binding guarantees that Rohingya refugees can return to their homes in Burma safely and voluntarily. As a long-standing, critical friend I believe we should expect and demand nothing less… I welcome the launch of Justice for the Rohingya Minority and look forward to working with you.”
Kiri Tunks, President of the National Union of Teachers and JFRM Patron spoke about the importance of bringing about more awareness and educating people, especially the youth, about the Rohingya crisis. The NUT, she highlighted, had made important links with local Rohingya communities in two UK cities, and that it had written to the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as well as a joint letter with the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK as part of the Show Racism the Red Card to Leeds United FC, urging the club not to tour Myanmar.
JFRM CEO Dr Abdullah Faliq, commented that “this legal campaign is important and long overdue. Through our collective endeavour and the vast experience within JFRM composition, we hope to help the Rohingya find justice they so badly need.”
The launch event was moderated by the veteran d TV and news presenter Veronica Pedrosa, who has extensively covered the Rohingya crisis.
The event ended with the announcement of a new book on the Rohingya crisis by writer and JFRM Steering Committee member, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari.
Notes to editors:
1. Established in late 2017, JFRM is an independent organisation, which comprises a diverse group of lawyers, jurists, academics, campaigners, professionals, and community leaders joining forces in a legal campaign for the prosecution of those responsible for crimes against humanity in Myanmar. JFRM is the trading name for Justice for the Rohingya, company registration no. 11168200
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