The International Court of Justice (ICJ) must take into account the horrific scale of violations against Rohingya children as it holds its first public hearings to decide whether Myanmar committed an act of genocide.
In making its decision the ICJ should bear in mind the enormous human suffering caused and the critical importance of holding perpetrators to account. Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh have told Save the Children of the extreme violence they have faced, and their strong desire for justice.
Speaking in 2017, 10-year-old Feyha* said:
“We were living happily before the violence started. Suddenly they started shooting on people, setting fire on houses. We could not stay there. We had to flee. They were chopping people. We could not find my father while fleeing. We could not bring anything with us. It was very difficult for me to walk on the hills when we were coming here. I fell down many times. My mother carried me all the way”
Speaking in 2017, 10-year-old Rania* said:
“Both of my parents were killed in Myanmar. My uncle brought me here. Now I live with my aunt. I was playing in a paddy field when they shot me. The bullet hit my leg and went out from the other side of the leg. After this my mother took me to another village to hide.”
Michael McGrath, Save the Children’s Director for Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, said:
“This week’s hearings at the International Court of Justice is a landmark moment in the quest for justice for some of the most shocking atrocities of our times. The Myanmar security forces and their proxies have killed thousands of Rohingya – including children – and driven hundreds of thousands to flee into Bangladesh. By filing this case, The Gambia has shown the leadership that has so far eluded the UN Security Council.
“It’s high time Rohingya refugee children and their families get their day in court. They saw their parents being killed, babies thrown into fires, their homes set alight and young girls gang-raped. We have heard multiple stories of horrific violence no child should witness. It’s crucial the Court takes these alleged crimes against children into account, their voices must be heard.
“We urge the ICJ to accept the case and send a strong signal that the world will not sit idly by in the face of atrocities against children. The Court should also impose provisional measures that guarantee an end to ongoing violations in Myanmar, including lifting the restrictions on humanitarian aid, ending all restrictions on freedom of movement and access to health services, and refrain from destroying evidence.”
*Names changed to protect identities
For interviews, call Jess Brennan on +61 421 334 918.