Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi (C-R) and Abubacarr Tambadou (3-L), minister of justice of The Gambia, appear before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, 10 December. Photo: EPA
The UN’s top court has begun a hearing into Myanmar’s Rakhine crisis with Gambia in the opening session calling on Myanmar to “stop this genocide” of the Rohingya Muslim minority, with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attending to present Myanmar’s case.
“This is very much a dispute between Gambia and Myanmar,” Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou told the judges of the court, which was set up in 1946 to resolve disputes between UN member states.
Gambian Justice Minister Tambadou, who initiated the case, told judges: “All that The Gambia asks is that you tell Myanmar to stop these senseless killings, to stop these acts of barbarity that continue to shock our collective conscience, to stop this genocide of its own people.”
Suu Kyi will defend her country against accusations of genocide filed by The Gambia, following the 2017 Myanmar military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority.
She will not address what is known as the ”world court” until Wednesday morning, when she is expected to argue that the military operations in question were a legitimate counter-terrorism response to attacks by Rohingya terrorists.
Myanmar has said that military action in 2017 was promoted by deadly attacks on Myanmar border guards by groups of ARSA terrorists. She is expected to argue that the ICJ has no jurisdiction over the case.
Tambadou, a former prosecutor at the tribunal into the Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, said Myanmar’s military operation involved “mass murder, mass rape and mass torture, children being burned alive in their homes and places of worship.”
The Gambia is seeking emergency measures to prevent further harm to the Rohingya, pending a wider case at the ICJ which could take years.
Suu Kyi did not speak to waiting media after arriving at the court’s turreted Peace Palace headquarters in a motorcade with a police escort.
A group of some 50 pro-Rohingya protesters gathered outside the gates of the ICJ for the hearing, carrying banners saying: ‘Say yes to Rohingya, justice delayed is justice denied” and “Stop Burma military attack Rohingya.”
A small group of Suu Kyi supporters also unfurled a banner outside the court with the Myanmar leader’s face on it saying: “We love you, we stand with you!”
“Suu Kyi is the only person who can solve this problem,” supporter Swe Swe Aye, 47, told AFP.
“We are not denying that the Rohingya people suffered, but we are denying, like Suu Kyi, that there was a genocide in Myanmar.”
Thousands of people have also turned out in Suu Kyi’s support in Myanmar in recent weeks since she announced that she would personally lead Myanmar’s case at the court, including a support rally on Tuesday in Yangon.
ICJ judges have only once before ruled that genocide was committed, in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia.
Human rights experts do not argue against the claims of human rights abuse against the Rohingya but appear divided over whether it is possible to legally charge Myanmar with genocide.
Myanmar, however, faces a number of legal challenges over the fate of the Rohingya, including a probe by the International Criminal Court – a separate war crimes tribunal in The Hague – and a lawsuit in Argentina.
FROM : MIZZIMA