Myanmar's Suu Kyi warns genocide case could reignite Rohingya crisis

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi gives the opening address on the second day at the International Court of Justice in The Hague Netherlands on December 11

Once regarded as an global rights icon for standing up to Myanmar's brutal junta, Ms Suu Kyi's reputation has been tarnished by her decision to side with the military over the Rohingya crisis.

In May, seven Myanmar soldiers jailed for killing 10 Rohingya men and boys were released early from prison.

Yesterday, Suu Kyi listened on as lawyers for Gambia detailed graphic testimony of suffering of Rohingya at the hands of the Myanmar military.

He urged the court to tell her to "stop the genocide".

She said even if there had been violations of humanitarian law during what she described as an "internal conflict", they did not rise to the level of genocide and are not covered by the Convention.

The conundrum of Ms Suu Kyi who has been de facto leader of Myanmar since April 2016 is that she does not have control over the army yet stands accused by the United Nations investigator of "complicity" in the military clearances.

Gambia alleges that genocide was committed and is still ongoing.

Myanmar's de facto leader said that neutralising the current military justice system in the country and replacing it with an external justice system is like "surgically removing a functioning body part".

But she said that Myanmar was undertaking its own investigations, adding: "Surely under the circumstances, genocidal intent can not be the only hypothesis".

Mark Kersten, consultant at the Berlin-based Wayamo Foundation, an NGO promoting global criminal justice, said: "Imagine if someone said there is no genocide of a people who can not be named because they don't exist".

"There are a great many of observers who feel that the warning signs of genocide had been there for a quite long time, and there was a very real determination to simply get rid of the Rohingya", Rae said.

"Surely, under the circumstances, genocidal intent can not be the only hypothesis", she told the panel of 17 judges.

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"Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population", Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's regional director, said in an emailed statement.

The court has not set a date for a decision on provisional measures, but one could come in January.

Yet overseas, particularly in the West and in Muslim countries, Suu Kyi's reputation lies in tatters with multiple awards and even an honorary citizenship revoked.

Second, it has also been pointed out that Aung San Suu Kyi is now governing Myanmar as part of a coalition with the Tatmadaw, which arguably remains the strongest political institution in the country.

Ms Suu Kyi, used to be seen as an icon for global human rights but now defends the actions of the same army that kept her under house arrest for years.

"A defense of the Burmese military at this high-profile global forum is also an affront to the inclusive, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and democratic Burma that you claim to champion", they wrote.

In August 2017, the Myanmar military unleashed a reign of terror.

The move by the US senators prompted observers in Myanmar to weigh in on the issue in light of Aung San Suu Kyi's performance at The Hague.

Suu Kyi told the court on Wednesday that there was no proof of "genocidal intent" and said the army operation was in response to attacks by Rohingya terrorists.

On Wednesday, some refugees shouted "liar, liar, shame!", as they watched Suu Kyi defend Myanmar's case on television.

Although her taking office in 2016 nominally reinstated democratic rule, she is handicapped by a constitution guaranteeing the military continued powers in government, including enough seats in parliament to block reforms and constitutional change.

But Zin Linn, an activist from the New Society Youth Group who participated in a rally in Yangon on Tuesday in support of the genocide charges at the ICJ, said Aung San Suu Kyi's arguments had holes.

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