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Former human rights icon Aun San Suu Kyi faces faces genocide accusations in the Hague

Tuesday, 10 December, 2019 - 18:45

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who for many years resisted the Burmese junta, finds herself in the crosshairs of international justice because of the persecution of the Rohingya minority.

The current special adviser to the State and de facto head of the Burmese government since 2016, has decided to defend herself in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where public hearings will be held from December 10th to 12th.

The Gambia, whose Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou was a lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, is leading the lawsuit filed on behalf of the 57 states of the Islamic Cooperation Organization. According to Tambadou, Burma, a multi-ethnic country with a Buddhist majority, violated the 1948 Genocide Convention through “acts adopted, carried out or tolerated by the Government” against the Rohingya minority of Muslim faith.

In August 2017, more than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar, after an army offensive in retaliation for border crossing attacks by Rohingya rebels.

Persecuted by the Burmese armed forces and Buddhist militias, they took refuge in huge makeshift encampments in Bangladesh.

On Wednesday Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto will take to the stand to defend the actions of the Burmese government and refute the accusations of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The Gambia initiative is not the only judicial procedure currently being launched against Burma.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), in charge of trying the worst atrocities in the world and also based in The Hague, last week gave the green light to an investigation into alleged crimes against the Rohingya.

Although Burma is not a Member State of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the Court, the ICC declared itself competent to investigate the alleged deportation of this minority to Bangladesh, which is a signatory to the treaty.

Formerly celebrated as an icon of the fight against the Burmese dictatorship, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate is accused abroad of failing to defend the Rohingya, but still enjoys widespread support in her home country.


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