Aung San Suu Kyi to defend Myanmar at ICJ as it faces Rohingya genocide case
Myanmar State Counsellor and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is set to personally defend Myanmar in The Hague (click here for our Explained) Tuesday against accusations of carrying out a genocide against its Muslim Rohingya minority.
Myanmar’s civilian leader will appear at the International Court of Justice, after the Republic of the Gambia — a tiny country along the west coast of Africa — accused Myanmar of breaching the 1948 Genocide Convention. The Gambia, which is predominantly Muslim, is backed by the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Myanmar authorities have strongly disputed that conclusion, categorizing the military operation as a legitimate counter-terrorism response to attacks by Rohingya militants. Suu Kyi’s office said last month that she would lead her country’s team in The Hague to “defend the national interest”. She is due to speak on Wednesday and is expected to argue that the court has no jurisdiction and that Myanmar was targeting Rohingya militants.
During three days of hearings, Gambia’s legal team will ask the 17-member panel of UN judges at the ICJ to impose “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingya before the case can be heard in full.
While it risks drawing further criticism abroad, Suu Kyi’s decision to go to court has won plaudits in Myanmar, where the Rohingya are widely viewed as illegal immigrants. However, several right groups have also planned demonstrations in the Duty city, calling for a global boycott of Myanmar.
Suu Kyi’s appearance at the ICJ will be a far cry from her previous visits to Europe. She has not visited western Europe since 2016, when she still enjoyed international support after Myanmar’s first free election in decades. Since the Rohingya crackdown, the 74-year-old’s international reputation has been tarnished and she has been stripped of numerous honours and attacked by fellow Nobel laureates.