November 2019 — CANVAS

Weekly Report 21 November, 2019

Myanmar    Within the last week, three separate cases against Myanmar were been filed on counts of human rights abuses and genocide. The Gambia filed a genocide case with the International Court of Justice (IJC) against Myanmar on November 11th, urging the United Nations court to immediately issue orders to to stop atrocities and genocide against the Rohingya people. On November 14th, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched its own investigation into Rohingya prosecution, while a separate lawsuit was filed in an Argentine court against Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader. Though the three cases complement each other, they are distinct in the crimes they charge Myanmar with, the identity of the accused and the remedies the courts can order, which creates significant and differing advantages. The UN has stated that The Hague will hold public hearings in the case next month.  Aung San Suu Kyi, former Burmese leader and icon of democracy, will lead a delegation to the Hague next month and defend Myanmar against allegations of genocide. Prior to her election as State Counsellor in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi spent decades under house arrest in Myanmar for campaigning for democracy. Though she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts in spreading democracy, she has repeatedly refused to condemn the actions of the military against the Rohingya, claiming there is not enough evidence to definitively say whether or not a genocide occurred in Rakhine, and blaming “terrorists” for the situation.  Cambodia  The first political prisoners in Cambodia were freed this week following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s promise to release over 70 individuals....

Weekly Report 15 November, 2019

Myanmar     On Thursday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has approved an investigation into Myanmar’s mistreatment of the Rohingya minority ethnic group. ICC judges have backed a prosecution request to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity committed in Myanmar’s 2017 military crackdown against the Rohingya. The investigation approval came on the heels of a case against Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de-facto civilian leader, who was named in an Argentine lawsuit over crimes against the Rohingya, while Myanmar faced a separate genocide lawsuit at the United Nation’s top court. Though Myanmar is not a member of the ICC, the Hague ruled last year that it has jurisdiction over crimes against the Rohingya minority because Bangladesh, where they are now refugees, is a member. Myanmar has long denied accusations it committed ethnic cleansing or genocide. Cambodia  The Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has ordered the release of 70 opposition activists amongst rising tensions with trade partners. Hun Sen has been in power for 34 years and has received criticism from the international community for human rights abuses and the erasure of free speech; the European Union’s threat to withdraw trade benefits likely prompted the release of opposition activists. Additionally troubling the Hun Sen administration is opposition leader Sam Rainsy; Rainsy recently called for a peaceful uprising by the people of Cambodia and urged military forces not to shoot at protestors. Rainsy went on to criticize Hun Sen’s alleged deal with Beijing that allows a Chinese military base in the country, saying “Cambodia must be neutral”.   Maldives On Thursday, the Maldivian government released a statement strongly condemning Israel’s airstrikes against the...

Weekly Report November 8, 2019

Myanmar    On Tuesday, the Arakan army released 25 people that it seized from a ferry in the war-torn Rakhine State on October 26, according to a spokesperson from the armed ethnic group. The civilians were each given the equivalent of $10 USD for travel expenses, and their personal items returned. The 25 people were among 168 taken from the ferry, resulting in a total of 150 freed since the seizure. Of the 18 remaining hostages, it is unknown how many are still alive. A Rakhine police spokesperson said this week that the suspects from the Arakan Army will face trial under the Anti-Terrorism Law.  The 10 ethnic armed groups that have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) have yet to agree on whether to convene a Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM), the highest meeting of the national peace process. The meeting, which is usually attended by top government and military officials as well as the 10 groups, has been indefinitely postponed due to friction between the NCA signatories at an event marking the NCA’s fourth anniversary last week. Cambodia  A Cambodian opposition leader, Mu Sochua, has been detained in Malaysia this week whilst on her way to Cambodia. The Malaysian Prime Minister announced that Sochua will be deported and will not be able to enter her home country. Sochua’s failed efforts to return to Cambodia indicate the likely outcome of fellow opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s attempts to re-enter the nation. Rainsy’s upcoming return to Cambodia has put officials on edge, resulting in the deployment of 20,000 troops; extreme precautionary measures by the Cambodian government have cast doubt on...