Once feted by the West as a human rights heroine, Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi will travel to the Hague this week to defend her regime over accusations of genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority, in one of the most-high profile international legal cases in a generation.
Myanmar rejects the allegations which stem from the military’s savage ethnic cleansing campaign in Rakhine state in 2017 that forced 740,000 people to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they now live in squalid refugee camps.
Ms Suu Kyi, who will personally represent her fledgling democracy when the first hearings kick off on Tuesday at the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands, has vowed to “defend the national interest.”
In doing so, she will be defending the military who once held her under house arrest for many years to keep her out of power.
Her decision to brush aside concerns that backing the military’s brutality against the Rohingya will further tarnish her now sullied international reputation, has won her plaudits at home for once again championing the cause of her people.
Myanmar tour companies have organised discount holiday packages to supporters who wish to attend the hearings, with Myanmar citizens in the Netherlands offering homestays and logistical support.
Daw July, responsible for the visa service at one of the companies, said it was trying to sell the tickets as cheaply as possible. “It is a way to show support for Mother Suu,” she told the Myanmar Times, using Ms Suu Kyi’s local nickname.
The lawsuit charging genocide, including mass murder and rape, was lodged by Gambia, a tiny, mainly Muslim West African state backed by the 57-nation Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The case will be fought by a Gambian team led by Abubacarr Tambadou, the British-educated Justice Minister, who spent more than a decade prosecuting cases from Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
Mr Tambadou personally pushed for formal OIC support to prosecute Myanmar after visiting the overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, and listening to harrowing testimonies about rape, murder and children being burned alive.
“I saw genocide written all over these stories,” he said in an interview with Reuters in Gambia’s capital, Banjul.
The minister plans to ask the judges to immediately order Myanmar to cease violence against Rohingya civilians and preserve evidence that could help the genocide case.
He said he would draw from his experience of living through Gambia’s former “brutal dictatorship” as he faces off with the Myanmar delegation.
Click Here: liverpool mens jersey
“We know too well how it feels like to be unable to tell your story to the world, to be unable to share your pain in the hope that someone out there will hear and help,” he said.