Suu Kyi heads delegation to UN court


  • Myanmar
  • Friday, 22 Nov 2019

Yangon: Myanmar’s civilian leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi will head up a delegation to the UN’s top court to defend a case accusing the mainly Buddhist country of genocide against Rohingya Muslims, the government said, a decision that blind-sided observers.

West African nation Gambia is due to open its case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in December on behalf of the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The complaint accuses Myanmar of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention through its brutal military campaign in 2017, which targeted the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

In the opening hearings, the small, majority-Muslim African country is expected to ask the court to make an emergency injunction to protect the Rohingya, pending a decision on whether to deal with the wider case.

But Suu Kyi will personally lead a team to The Hague to “defend the national interest of Myanmar”, her office said. Myanmar has also retained prominent international lawyers, it added.

The country has repeatedly justified the crackdown on the Rohingya as necessary to stamp out militants and insists its own committees are adequate to investigate allegations of abuse.

Some 740,000 Rohingya were forced to flee into sprawling camps in Bangladesh after the brutal 2017 military crackdown, in violence that United Nations investigators concluded amounted to genocide.

The case will be the first international legal attempt to bring Myanmar to justice over the Rohingya crisis, and is a rare example of a country suing another over an issue to which it is not directly a party.

The ICJ was set up in 1946 after World War II to adjudicate in disputes between UN member states. — AFP

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