Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi to take the stand in genocide case

THE HAGUE: Aung San Suu Kyi is set to speak out in Myanmar's defence at the UN's top court on Wednesday (Dec 11), a day after the former democracy icon was urged to "stop the genocide" against Rohingya Muslims.

Once hailed internationally for her defiance of Myanmar's military government, the Nobel peace laureate will this time be on the side of the Southeast Asian nation's military when she takes the stand at the International Court of Justice.

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The small African state of Gambia has taken Myanmar to court over a bloody 2017 military crackdown in which thousands of people were killed and around 740,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to tell ICJ judges that Myanmar was conducting legitimate operations against Rohingya militants, that it has carried out its own investigations into the bloodshed and that the court has no jurisdiction in the case.

COMMENTARY: Myanmar doing rather well despite the Lady hauled to Hague for Rohingya's plight

Aung San Suu Kyi's defence of the same military that once kept her locked up has since caused international condemnation. (Photo: AFP/Frank Van Beek)

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Huge crowds are expected to turn out in Yangon to watch Aung San Suu Kyi speak via livestream amid a groundswell of support in Myanmar, where the woman dubbed "The Lady" is still widely loved.

Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said it would be "extremely disappointing" if Aung San Suu Kyi repeated her previous denials of wrongdoing by Myanmar.

"STAIN ON OUR CONSCIENCE"

Mostly-Muslim 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.

The 74-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi sat impassively through graphic accounts of mass murder and rape on Tuesday as Gambia set out its case against Myanmar.

Tambadou, who said he was inspired to act after visiting Bangladesh in 2018, told the judges on Tuesday that the world's failure to help the Rohingya was a "stain on our collective conscience".

ICJ judges have only once before ruled that genocide was committed, in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia.

The Gambia's lawyers sought to tie Aung San Suu Kyi directly into the case.

READ: Bangladesh starts fencing Rohingya camps

About 740,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after a bloody 2017 military crackdown in which thousands of people were killed. (Photo: AFP/Fred Dufour)

They said the appearance of huge billboards across Myanmar in recent weeks featuring pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi with three smiling generals showed she was "in it together" with the army, whose half century in power was characterised by brutal civil conflicts, biting poverty and isolation.

Aung San Suu Kyi's decision to personally lead her country's case at the court has proved popular at home, where the Rohingya are widely regarded as illegal immigrants.

Flag-waving supporters joined rallies in support of Aung San Suu Kyi in several Myanmar cities on Tuesday and rally organisers in Yangon told AFP they have permission from authorities to live stream Wednesday's ICJ hearing on a bigRead More – Source