The Hague (AFP) – Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi faced calls for Myanmar to “stop the genocide” of Rohingya Muslims as she personally led her country’s defence at the court yesterday.
The civilian leader sat through graphic accounts of mass murder and rape as the west African state of The Gambia set out its case at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Thousands of people back home in Yangon rallied in support of 74-year-old Ms Suu Kyi, whose silence about the plight of the Rohingya has tarnished her international reputation as a rights icon.
Around 740,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after a bloody crackdown by the Myanmar military in 2017 that UN investigators have already described as genocide.
“Tell Myanmar to stop these senseless killings, to stop these acts of barbarity that continue to shock our collective conscience, to stop this genocide of its own people,” Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou told the judges.
Muslim-majority Gambia accuses Myanmar of breaching the 1948 genocide convention and has asked the court, set up in 1946 to rule on disputes between UN member states, to take emergency measures to stop further violence.
“Another genocide is unfolding right before our eyes yet we do nothing to stop it,” added Mr Tambadou, a former prosecutor at the tribunal into the Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
“Every day of inaction means more people are being killed, more women are being raped and more children are being burned alive. For what crime? Only that they were born different.”
Ms Suu Kyi, who 28 years ago today was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is set to speak in Myanmar’s defence today. She is expected to argue that Myanmar was conducting legitimate operations against Rohingya militants and that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in the case.