Muslim groups sue Myanmar president over ‘Rohingya genocide'

Muslim groups files lawsuit against Myanmar President Thein Sein as well as top officials over crimes against Muslim Rohingya minority

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are transported to a temporary shelter in Krueng Raya in Aceh Besar April 8, 2013

Muslim rights activists groups have filed a lawsuit in the United States against Myanmar President Thein Sein and top government officials with accusation of "hate crimes and discrimination amounting to genocide" towards 1.1 million Rohingya minority a month ahead of historic Nov. 8 general elections.

Rohingya Muslims were subjected to “genocide, torture, arbitrary detention, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” by Thein Sein government and nationalist Buddhist monks, the human rights groups said.

Compliant by the Human rights groups has demanded US Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman to issue summons as the suit was filed on Thursday.

The civil lawsuit was filed on Thursday in the United States by Burma Task Force, a group of 19 Muslim organisations that seek compensatory damages over violations of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS).

The lawsuit has been criticised by a spokesman for President Thein Sein.

"Myanmar is not a vassal to America. There's no reason why Myanmar would go and face the lawsuit of a federal court in America," he said.

On the other hand, Gurpatwant Pannun, the lawyer representing the Burma Task Force said that "once it is declared genocide, it becomes [the responsibility of] the US administration to prosecute those who are responsible for genocide because there is a convention that the US has signed."

The federal law that ATS used by non-US citizens for 223 years in the US have been allowing courts to hear civil human rights abuse lawsuits for acts violating international law. In 2013, the US supreme court tightened the rules of engagement of the law. According to new regulations, the claims of lawsuits must touch and concern US territory “with sufficient force.”

Frequently, Myanmar has been the subject of criticism over its threats to Rohingya Muslims, after the anti-Muslim sentiment increased in the country following the military rule that ended in 2011.

Obama called on Myanmar to end discrimination against Rohingya and give citizenship to Rohingya Muslims.

Also, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, Dalai Lama has called on fellow Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to speak up for Myanmar's long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims as their plight is came in the spotlight amid refugee crisis.

In Rohingya, where 1.1 million residents aren't considered to be citizens by Myanmar's government, Muslims were attacked by Buddhist mobs in recent years and more than 100,000 stateless men, women, and children have been subjected to forced migration

At least 200 people were killed and thousands of Rohingya Muslims referred to as “boat people” are believed to be stranded in the Andaman Sea during the Rohingyan refugee crisis in May.

In the past three years, more than 120,000 Rohingyas have boarded ships to flee abroad, according to the UN refugee agency.

In May, Malaysian authorities uncovered nearly 140 graves holding the bodies of refugees, after Thailand found similar mass graves at the beginning of the month.

TRTWorld and agencies