Global human rights and democracy icon, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a political prisoner who spent 15 years under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi will personally defend her country from accusations of genocide against the Rohingya community at the United Nation’s top court.
A legal case which kicks off with three days of hearings Tuesday, will see Myanmar’s civilian leader Suu Kyi lead a delegation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Peace Palace in the Netherlands to justify her government’s persecution of the Muslim minority.
Suu Kyi will defend the Myanmar military’s campaign of violence that forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee into neighboring Bangladesh in 2016 and 2017. The atrocities have been described as genocide by a UN fact-finding commission but Myanmar denies the charges and has long claimed to have been targeting terrorists.
West African nation of Gambia filed a lawsuit with the world court in November alleging that Myanmar committed “genocidal acts” that “were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group” through mass murder, rape, and destruction of communities.
On Tuesday, Gambia will ask the 15-judge court to compel the Myanmar government and military to end all acts that amount to or contribute to genocide, and to stop Myanmar from destroying evidence relating to the case.
Gambia’s attorney general and justice minister Abubacarr Marie Tambadou is leading the case, with backing from 57-member Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The case won’t be decided this week, but instead could take years till it reaches a final ruling.
The International Court doesn’t have the power to enforce its decisions, but can be sent to the UN Security Council, which could decide to enact a resolution or take other concrete measures.