The Gambian minister Ba Tambadou made the International Court of Justice convict Myanmar. He came up with the topic by chance.
How could little Gambia deep in West Africa have Myanmar convicted of genocide against the Rohingya at the International Court of Justice in The Hague? Success has a name: Ba Tambadou, Gambia’s Minister of Justice. Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, as the 47-year-old trained in Great Britain is called by full name, came across the topic by chance. He jumped in when Gambia’s Foreign Minister stayed away from a summit of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Bangladesh in May 2019. He was there when a delegation from the Muslim Federation visited the Rohingya refugee camp there.
“Then I realized how much more serious it was than the lightning reports on TV,” the minister later told the BBC interview and described what he heard: “Houses were burned down, babies torn from their mother’s arms and alive into the fire thrown, men drummed and executed, girls raped in groups ”. That “bore all the features of the genocide,” he said.
Tambadou knew what he was talking about. From 2003 he worked in the UN Genocide Tribunal’s Prosecution Office for Rwanda until the closing of the court in Arusha, Tanzania in 2016. In the 1990s, he was the Attorney General of his home country. Later, when military ruler Yahya Jammeh established a tight dictatorship, he became known as a human rights activist.