Suu Kyi defends Myanmar military against genocide allegations at UN court

Robie de Guzman   •   December 11, 2019   •   437

Aung San Suu Kyi

Nobel prize winner and the de facto leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday defended her country’s military over genocide allegations against the minority Rohingya in the International Court of Justice.

The Gambia, a West African state, filed a case against Myanmar at the ICJ in The Hague accusing the country of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention, which was ratified by the Southeast Asian country in 1956.

“The Gambia has placed an incomplete and misleading picture of the factual situation in Rakhine state,” Suu Kyi said.

The Nobel prize winner added that the situation in the state of Rakhine was “complex” and she acknowledged the “suffering” of the Rohingya minority, over 740,000 of whom have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

The mass exodus of the Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority that has lived in Rakhine state for centuries, was the result of a military crackdown that took place in August 2017.

Many Rohingya, who are effectively stateless having long been denied citizenship by Burmese authorities, now live in overcrowded refugee camps on the Bangladesh border.

But Suu Kyi defined the circumstances in the region as an “internal conflict” saying that clashes in the state of Rakhine, in the west of the country, were a result of a response of Myanmar’s military to the armed attacks by local rebel groups.

She added that several police stations and thousands of agents had been targeted by the armed rebels.

Suu Kyi defended the clearance operations led by the military as a justifiable response to acts of “terrorism”.

The Myanmar leader added that if the military were guilty of an attempt of genocide they should be put on military trial as stipulated by the Myanmar Constitution.

“Can there be genocidal intent on the part of the state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers, who are accused of wrongdoing? Although the focus here is on members of the military, I can assure you that appropriate action will be taken on civilian offenders, in line with due process,” Suu Kyi added.

In the first phase of the trial, the ICJ must decide if it would impose provisional measures on Myanmar to ensure that no genocide convention violation occurs.

The court will then send its ruling to the United Nations Security Council. China and Russia have used their veto powers in the Security Council to defend Myanmar in the past.

Several generals of the Myanmar military are facing charges of crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court, also in the Hague, and a case in Argentina under the principle of universal jurisdiction. EFE-EPA

DFA raises alert level 2 for Filipinos in Myanmar

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday raised the alert level for Filipinos in Myanmar amid the political unrest in the country.

“In view of the developing critical situation in Myanmar, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised the alert level for Myanmar to Alert Level 2 as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the remaining 1,273 Filipinos there,” the DFA said in a statement.

The raising of alert level status entails “restriction of non-essential movements, avoiding of places of protest, and preparation for possible evacuation,” the department said.

“Only returning workers with existing contracts shall be allowed to travel to Myanmar,” it added.

The DFA also reiterated its advice to Filipinos in Myanmar to exercise due caution, and monitor developments through reputable sources.

Filipinos in Myanmar are also urged to avoid places of protests, and to observe the guidance of the Philippine Embassy in Yangon.

The military took over the civilian government in Myanmar, detaining leaders including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi last February 1 over allegations of election fraud.

The armed forces staged the coup in support of the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud following a general election which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide. Protests have since erupted in parts of the country against the military takeover.

Meanwhile, the DFA reported that a total of 55 Filipinos from Myanmar arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

They were flown home by a Myanmar National Airlines Flight arranged since January 15, the department said.

The COVID-19 relief flight was facilitated through the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar and its Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs.

“Most overseas Filipinos who joined the flight were self-paying passengers, while two repatriates were directly assisted by the Philippine government by shouldering their overstaying fees and tickets,” the DFA said.

Last February 15, the DFA also repatriated 139 Filipinos from Myanmar via a chartered flight.

“The DFA through its network of 94 Philippine Embassies and Consulates General across the globe is always ready to assist our overseas Filipinos who wish to return to the Philippines due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in their host countries,” DFA Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said.

UN warns against harsh treatment of protesters in Myanmar

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 16, 2021

The United Nations (UN) has warned Myanmar’s military for its harsh treatment of protesters, saying that the “world is watching closely.”

In a press briefing, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said that UN Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener has called on the Myanmar military to refrain from using violence and respect human rights.

“The right of peaceful assembly must fully be respected, and that demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals. She has conveyed to the Myanmar military that the world is watching closely, and any form of heavy-handed response is likely to have severe consequences,” she said.

Protests across Myanmar have grown after the military takeover on February 1 where top political leaders were arrested.

Several of the high officials detained include State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.  

There are also reports that the military use excessive force against the demonstrators.

According to the UN human rights office (OHCHR), as of February 12, more than 350 political and state officials, activists, and civil society members have been taken into custody. Several members of the media, monks, and students were also detained

“Several face criminal charges on dubious grounds, and most have received no form of due process or permitted legal representation, family visitations or communication,” according to the UN.

Burgener also reiterated UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s statement and called for a visit to Myanmar under agreeable conditions. -AAC

Locsin calls for restoration of ‘status quo ante’ in Myanmar amid military takeover

Marje Pelayo   •   February 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin on Tuesday (February 9) called for the “the complete restoration of the status quo ante” in Myanmar following military take over and detention of democratic leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a tweet, Locsin said “The Philippines has been supportive of Myanmar’s progress towards a fuller democracy.” 

“The realization of this democratic process can only be achieved through the complete restoration of the-status quo ante,” he added.

Police have responded against escalating violence in protests against the  military takeover of the government and the detention of the deposed civilian leader and other elected lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the DFA said it is preparing for the repatriation of 252 Filipinos who have signified interest to leave Myanmar.

Suu Kyi was arrested along with other democratically-elected lawmakers in a pre-dawn raid on February 1 by Myanmar military.


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