Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, appeared at the International Court of Justice in The Hague on 10 December, to defend Myanmar against accusations of genocide.
The country denounces claims that it tried to exterminate minority Rohingya Muslims in a bloody 2017 crackdown by its military. The case will also be watched in Bangladesh, where some 740,000 Rohingya were forced to flee into camps.
Suu Kyi, a 74-year-old Nobel peace laureate, was once seen on the same level as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Her reputation, however, has been damaged by her silence over the crackdown of the Rohingya.
This is the third genocide case filed at the court since World War Two. It was first launched in November, when Muslim-majority Gambia accused Myanmar of breaching the 1948 Genocide Convention. Gambia asked the court for emergency measures to stop Myanmar’s “ongoing genocidal actions”.
Suu Kyi will speak on 11 December. Thousands of Rohingya supporters have demonstrated outside the court. She arrived in the courtroom wearing a traditional dress and ignored reporters’ questions.
“The best Suu Kyi can do to restore her image in the eyes of the world is to say the Rohingyas have been wronged,” said the imam who heads the Burmese Task Force.
Suu Kyi, nicknamed “The Lady”, is the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero Aung San. She spent 15 years under house arrest when a military junta ruled Myanmar. The army freed her in 2010, and she led her party to victory in 2015 elections.