Maldives hires Amal Clooney to fight for Rohingya refugees at International Court of Justice

DelhiUpdated: Feb 26, 2020, 10:30 PM IST

File photo: An exhausted Rohingya refugee woman touches the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Rohingya Muslims are stateless people, they are one of the most persecuted communities in the world.

The Maldives has hired prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to fight for Rohingya Muslims at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The decision to take up the case comes soon after the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid asked the UN for a seat in its Human Rights Council for the 2023-2025 term.

In a single day, Maldives expressed readiness to serve on the United Nation Human Rights Council and stand up for Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims at the International Court of Justice.

The ruling Maldivian democratic party knows someone who can help fight the pending case at Hague - that's Amal Clooney, who successfully represented former Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed in 2015.

She secured a decision to dismiss politically motivated sentencing of nasheed to 13 years in prison. Now, she will don the gown yet again in the service of Maldives.

In a fight to challenge Myanmar's 2017 military crackdown that chased nearly 740,000 Rohingya Muslims to neighbouring Bangladesh, Amal Clooney will go up against Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi - the Nobel Peace Prize winner and the unexpected defender of the military. 

Today, Rohingya Muslims are stateless people, they are one of the most persecuted communities in the world. 

After the crackdown in 2017-18, most of the Rohingya population was driven out of Myanmar. Making them refugees in neighbouring countries who are hesitant to take them in.

More than 100,000 Rohingyas are still in Myanmar, confined to camps for internally displaced persons. UN officials and Human Rights Watch have described Myanmar's persecution of the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing.

In a unanimous ruling last month, the International Court of Justice ordered Buddhist-majority Myanmar to take care of Rohingyas, but for Myanmar to have a change of heart may take years.

So, the case at the International Court may go on for years. The Maldives has joined the mainly Muslim African state of Gambia to prevent the destruction of evidence in the ongoing case

Most importantly, Amal Clooney will seek accountability for a feared outcome of the ethnic crackdown - genocide.