Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi travels to The Hague in defence of genocide accusations

This Tuesday, former Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar’s state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will appear at The Hague’s International Court of Justice (ICJ). She will be leading a delegation defending the country on allegations of genocide.

Once considered a human rights champion, Aung San Suu Kyi has since been accused of denying the mass murder, rape, and destruction of Rohingya Muslim communities by her country’s military, leading to international condemnation. In her own country, however, Aung San Suu Kyi receives majority support from the largely Buddhist population.

“This is the last chance for her to restore her international stature,” Bruma Task Force chair Abdul Malik Mujahid said continuing with “The best thing she could say would be to admit that crimes have been committed and [that she will] cooperate. Evidence of genocide should be preserved, the Rohingya should have their citizenship restored and be allowed to return.”

The formal accusations were brought against Myanmar by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation state, Gambia who, under ICJ rules, invokes the 1948 convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide. The Gambia states, “The genocidal acts committed during these operations were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses.” With the accusations, Gambia asks the court for an emergency declaration to cease the atrocities.

Though no testimony will be heard from any of the estimated 700,000 Rohingya who have fled the country since the start of the military’s cleansing operations, UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee has described first hand of “attacks in which homes were set ablaze by security forces, in many cases with people trapped inside, and entire villages razed to the ground.”

The ICJ court appearance is but one of the potential international trials around Myanmar with The Hague’s International Criminal Court (ICC) launching a separate investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, as well as an Argentinian federal court receiving evidence-based around universal jurisdiction in consideration of torture cases from anywhere in the world.

Closing arguments will occur on Thursday. The hearing will be live streamed and security presence is expected to be high.


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