Rohingya crisis: The Gambia who took Aung San Sui Kyi to the world court


Abubacarr Marie Tambadou attends the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Public hearingsImage copyright Getty Photographs

Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou’s actions introduced Aung San Sui Kyi to The Hague to affirm that her executive was as soon as committing a genocide. Because the UN’s highest court is ready to rule on the case, Anna Holligan takes a see on the man taking on the Nobel laureate.

It was as soon as an unexpected detour that led Abubacarr Tambadou from his home in the cramped West African country of The Gambia to ride an epiphany on the fringe of a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.

Listening to survivors’ tales he stated the stench of needless bodies started drifting across the border into Bangladesh from Myanmar.

“I realised how some distance more serious it was as soon as than the flashes we would viewed on television screens,” he instructed the BBC.

“Protection force and civilians would organise systematic attacks against Rohingya, burn down homes, snatch babies from their moms’ palms and throw them alive into burning fires, round up and lift out men; women had been gang-raped and place by all forms of sexual violence.”

‘Good savor Rwanda’

These chilling scenes reminded Mr Tambadou of events in Rwanda all overthe 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of about 800,000 people.

“It sounded very grand savor the roughly acts that had been perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

“It was as soon as the same modus operandi – the approach of dehumanisation, calling them names – it bore the total hallmarks of genocide.

“I concluded in my catch mind, it was as soon as an strive by Myanmar authorities to absolutely extinguish the Rohingya ethnic neighborhood.”

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tons of of thousands of Rohingyas savor fled Myanmar and reside in refugee camps

Myanmar has denied committing a genocide and this week released an “executive summary” of a executive investigation which characterizes the mass killings as a “haphazard” response by the defense force to attacks by Muslim militants.

Released about a days sooner than the ICJ ruling, it appears to be an are trying to determined the authorities of any “intent”, which is central to defining the crime of genocide.

In court, Aung San Suu Kyi argued that this domestic investigation negates the necessity for any global intervention.

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Media captionHow did this peace icon cease up at a genocide trial?

For Mr Tambadou, doing nothing was as soon as by no manner an probability.

“That is ready our humanity whatever the total lot,” his remark rose as he spoke.

“On a interior most stage I’m disgusted by what I even savor heard and viewed. Professionally I believed Myanmar should always be held to blame for these actions [and] a contrivance to raise out that was as soon as to narrate a case to the International Court of Justice.”

For this historical prosecutor on the UN’s Rwanda tribunal to savor stumbled on himself himself in a displacement camp in Bangladesh pondering what to raise out was as soon as no longer a twist of fate nevertheless a matter of “divine future”.

Myanmar stands accused of violating the genocide convention. Somebody of the 149 counties which savor signed the treaty would possibly maybe maybe want instigated the case nevertheless it was as soon as The Gambia, beneath the route of Mr Tambadou, that took the initiative, backed by the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, a neighborhood of 57 mainly Muslim countries.

Uncover more about what came about in Myanmar:

The Gambia requested the ICJ to catch an emergency ruling on its request for provisional measures which can maybe maybe well be designed to halt any extra acts of violence or destruction and defend any proof of genocidal acts against the Rohingya Muslim population.


Simon Adams, head of the people rights organisation World Centre for the Accountability to Protect, stated there was as soon as handiest one man with the braveness, abilities and humanity to device shut a see at to find Myanmar to blame for the alleged atrocities.

“Some had been disturbed of retaliation from the Chinese language,” he stated.

“Others stated it wasn’t an acceptable time, was as soon as too politically dangerous. [But] I was as soon as impressed by his fearlessness. He realised what would possibly maybe maybe well be coming stress-practical nevertheless he was as soon as developing a solution to take care of it.”

Image copyright Getty Photographs
Image caption Aung San Sui Kyi was as soon as seated subsequent to Abubacarr Tambadou as he adressed the ICJ

This agility was as soon as developed all over Mr Tambadou’s early years.

Born in 1972, he grew up in The Gambia’s capital, Banjul, as one in every of the center adolescence amongst 18 siblings.

It was as soon as a archaic polygamous Muslim household and his father had three better halves.

As a younger man he excelled in sport, winning caps for his country in soccer. “I was as soon as no longer a wicked participant,” he modestly conceded.

Shut pals persecuted

The 47-one year-used described his childhood as “fortunate”. His center-class household would possibly maybe maybe pay for both a interior most secondary college education at home, to boot to a British college stage.

Nervous of disappointing his father, he abandoned his wearing aspirations and selected a more academic direction.

“I would by no manner intended to gaze regulations. Nonetheless… the first college location I got equipped was as soon as to raise out a regulations stage [at Warwick University] and so I had a occupation deviation.”

After graduating, he returned home and in the origin worked as a public prosecutor.

Increasingly attentive to the political allege in The Gambia, he and his pals began to keep up a correspondence out against human rights violations.

In April 2000,President Yahya Jammeh’s infamous security forces opened fireplace on crowds of composed protesters, killing 14 students, a journalist and Purple Unsuitable volunteer.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Yahya Jammeh was as soon as in energy for 22 years sooner than being compelled into exile

Mr Tambadou watched his shut pals prosecuted and persecuted nevertheless it was as soon as stress from his household, serious referring to the results of his opposition to the Jammeh regime that at closing convinced him to pursue alternatives exterior his fatherland.

And so started his occupation in global justice.

His self-imposed exile took him to the UN court jam as much as device shut a see on the ringleaders of the Rwanda genocide, the assign he was as soon as to blame for the prosecution of historical Rwandan military chief of workers Maj-Gen Augustin Bizimungu.

He believed what he was as soon as doing “was as soon as no longer honest prosecuting the Rwandan genocidaires,” he stated.The Gambia profile

“This was as soon as a contrivance for us Africans to ship a message to our leaders… I saw it as more of an African fight for justice and accountability than a Rwandan one.”

‘An example for runt states’

After Jammeh’s fall in the origin of 2017, Mr Tambadou returned to The Gambia to motivate in President Adama Barrow’s cabinet – The Gambia’s first new leader for 23 years.

And it was as soon as in his skill as justice minister that he travelled to Unique York with the country’s faraway places minister, Ousainou Darboe. When Mr Darboe was as soon as then unable to budge on a deliberate day out to Bangladesh, he requested Mr Tambadou to budge on his behalf.

He scanned his diary and spoke back: “Why no longer?”

“You can impartial call it a twist of fate” he laughs.

Image copyright Getty Photographs
Image caption This Rohingya girl says squaddies killed her mother

Nonetheless Mr Tambadou’s subsequent assignment would possibly maybe maybe well be nearer to home.

Protests erupted in The Gambian capital of Banjul closing week, with supporters of historical President Jammeh calling for him to come home from exile in Equatorial Guinea.

In a leaked recording the exiled historical leader would possibly maybe maybe well be heard announcing he supported the demonstrations.

The justice minister believes it’s miles unlikely that he’ll come motivate nevertheless if he does he says that Jammeh shall be arrested.

“Nothing more would please me bigger than to budge searching for historical President Jammeh face as much as his crimes he has committed against unusual Gambians.

“I’ve thankfully by no manner had the rest to raise out with him. I opposed and despised his brutal and savage suggestions because the day he took energy.”

The authorities savor now started significantly discussing basically the most viable location to narrate prison charges against Mr Jammeh.

All alternatives are currently on the table – a nationwide trial, regional tribunal or global court case.

Mr Tambadou thinks this is the time for The Gambia to reclaim its location on the area stage. When it comes to human rights he holds a intrepid ambition: “We desire to lead by example”.

“The case at ICJ is Gambia showing the area you invent no longer must savor defense force energy or financial energy to denounce oppressions. Smartly suited obligation and suitable accountability exist for all states, colossal or runt.”

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