Myanmar Rohingya: Suu Kyi accused of ‘silence’ in genocide trial

Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the top United Nations court, after court hearings in The Hague, Netherlands, 12 December, 2019Picture copyright

Picture caption

Aung San Suu Kyi has referred to as the case “incomplete and incorrect”

The Gambia has denounced Myanmar chief Aung San Suu Kyi’s “silence” over alleged atrocities in opposition to Rohingya Muslims.

The Muslim-majority African nation has accused Myanmar of genocide in a case on the UN’s prime courtroom.

Legal professionals stated Ms Suu Kyi had ignored widespread allegations of mass homicide, rape and compelled deportation.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has defended her nation, calling the case “incomplete and incorrect”.

In her closing remarks on the Worldwide Court docket of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday, she stated the genocide case might “undermine reconciliation”.

What did The Gambia say?

Legal professionals for The Gambia hit out at arguments from Ms Suu Kyi that a 2017 navy crackdown in Rakhine state was a “clearance operation” concentrating on militants.

Hundreds of Rohingya had been killed and greater than 700,000 fled to neighbouring Bangladesh throughout the crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. There have been widespread allegations of sexual violence and rape.

“Madame Agent, your silence says excess of your phrases,” lawyer Philippe Sands stated, referring to Ms Suu Kyi’s place as Myanmar’s agent within the case.

“The phrase ‘rape’ didn’t as soon as go the lips of the agent,” he added.

“What’s most putting is what Myanmar has not denied,” stated one other lawyer for The Gambia, Paul Reichler, in keeping with AFP information company.

The Gambia introduced the case on behalf of dozens of different Muslim nations, calling on Myanmar to “cease this genocide of its personal folks”.

How has Suu Kyi responded to the allegations?

Ms Suu Kyi – as soon as celebrated internationally as a champion of democracy – has been de facto chief of Myanmar since April 2016, earlier than the alleged genocide started. She doesn’t have management over the military, however has been accused by the UN investigator of “complicity” within the navy clearances.

Myanmar has all the time insisted it was tackling an extremist risk in Rakhine, and Ms Suu Kyi has maintained that stance on the ICJ, describing the violence as an “inner armed battle” triggered by Rohingya militant assaults on authorities safety posts.

Media playback is unsupported in your gadget

Media captionHow did this peace icon find yourself at a genocide trial?

Conceding that Myanmar’s navy may need used disproportionate pressure at occasions, she advised the courtroom that if troopers had dedicated struggle crimes they’d be prosecuted.

In her closing remarks on Thursday, she stated it was “necessary to keep away from any reignition of the 2016-17 inner armed battle”.

“I pray that the choice you make with the knowledge and imaginative and prescient of justice will assist us to create unity out of variety,” she advised judges.

“Steps that generate suspicions, sow doubts or create resentments between communities who’ve simply start to construct the delicate basis of belief might undermine reconciliation.”

What has the response been?

Hasina Begum, a 22-year-old refugee who travelled from Bangladesh to be within the courtroom for the trial, advised the BBC that she wished justice. She says 10 members of her household had been killed by Myanmar’s navy.

“We’ve got come right here with braveness to say this: in case your forces did not do these acts, why would now we have left the nation and why have our family disappeared?”

“We do not prefer to see her face, we do not help her. She just isn’t supporting her folks, she is supporting her navy,” she stated.

Supporters of Myanmar’s chief have gathered outdoors the courtroom throughout the three-day trial, holding indicators saying: “We stand with Aung San Suu Kyi.”

What’s the background?

In the beginning of 2017, there have been one million Rohingya in Myanmar, most residing in Rakhine state.

However Myanmar, a primarily Buddhist nation, considers them unlawful immigrants and denies them citizenship.

Blow by blow: How a ‘genocide’ was investigated
Is refugee disaster ‘textbook ethnic cleaning’?

The Rohingya have lengthy complained of persecution, and in 2017 the navy – the Tatmadaw – launched a large navy operation in Rakhine.

Based on The Gambia’s submission to the ICJ, the clearances had been “supposed to destroy the Rohingya as a bunch, in complete or partly”, through mass homicide, rape and setting hearth to their buildings “usually with inhabitants locked inside”.

A UN fact-finding mission which investigated the allegations discovered such compelling proof that it stated the Burmese military should be investigated for genocide in opposition to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine.

In August, a report accused Myanmar troopers of “routinely and systematically using rape, gang rape and different violent and compelled sexual acts in opposition to ladies, women, boys, males and transgender folks”.

In Could, seven Myanmar troopers jailed for killing 10 Rohingya males and boys had been launched early from jail. Myanmar says its navy operations focused Rohingya militants, and the navy has beforehand cleared itself of wrongdoing.

What’s the possible end result of this case?

For now, The Gambia is simply asking the courtroom to impose “provisional measures” to guard the Rohingya in Myanmar and elsewhere from additional threats or violence. These will likely be legally binding.

To rule that Myanmar has dedicated genocide, the courtroom must decide that the state acted “with intent to destroy in complete or partly” the Rohingya minority.

Media playback is unsupported in your gadget

Media captionJonathan Head visits the Hla Poe Kaung transit camp, which is constructed on the positioning of two demolished Rohingya villages

Even then the ICJ has no method of imposing the end result – and neither Aung San Suu Kyi nor the generals would robotically be arrested and placed on trial.

However a responsible ruling might result in sanctions, and would trigger vital reputational and financial injury to Myanmar.

What’s the present state of affairs for the Rohingya?

A whole bunch of hundreds of Rohingya have fled Myanmar because the navy operations started.

As of 30 September, there have been 915,000 Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh. Virtually 80% arrived between August and December 2017, and in March this yr, Bangladesh stated it will settle for no extra.

In August, Bangladesh arrange a voluntary return scheme – however not a single Rohingya particular person selected to go.

Bangladesh plans to relocate 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char, a small island within the Bay of Bengal, however some 39 support companies and human rights teams have opposed the thought.

In September, the BBC’s Jonathan Head reported that police barracks, authorities buildings and refugee relocation camps had been constructed on the websites of former Rohingya villages in Myanmar.