Suu Kyi defends Myanmar military against genocide allegations at UN court
Robie de Guzman • December 11, 2019 • 331
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 dmu-cm/ch/ks
A landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar killed at least 113 people, with more feared dead, authorities said on Thursday (July 2), after a pile of mine waste collapsed into a lake, triggering a wave of mud and water that buried many workers.
The miners were collecting stones in the jade-rich Hpakant area of Kachin state when the “muddy wave” crashed onto them, following heavy rain, the fire service department said in a Facebook post.
Rescue workers recovered 113 bodies, the department said, but more were missing.
Video obtained by Reuters shows body bags lined up as people wait to identify the dead. Deadly landslides and other accidents are common in the poorly regulated mines of Hpakant.
Scores of people have been killed in the area in recent years according to local media reports, with many of them freelance “jade pickers” who scour tailings – the residue from mining – for stones that have been missed by larger operators. (Reuters)
Yangon, Myanmar – Myanmar’s de facto leader will head a delegation to The Hague to defend her country against allegations of genocide before the International Court of Justice.
Aung San Suu Kyi — state counselor, foreign minister and once-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize — will lead a team to “defend the national interest of Myanmar at the ICJ,” her office said in a statement late Wednesday night.
The move comes after the Gambia on Nov. 11 filed an application to the top United Nations court alleging Myanmar had carried out mass murder, rape and destruction of communities in Rakhine state, including against the Muslim Rohingya minority.
The ICJ has set dates for Dec 10-12 for public hearings with oral observations from both the Gambia and Myanmar over the three days.
More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled the country to Bangladesh since August 2016 in the wake of a military crackdown in response to an alleged attack by an insurgent Rohingya group against police and border posts.
Doctors Without Borders estimates that at least 6,700 Rohingya, including 730 children under five years of age, died as a result of violence unleashed by soldiers.
In its application, the Gambia said the “genocidal acts committed during these (clearance) operations were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group … by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses.”
The Gambian delegation also asked the court to impose a series of provisional measures on Myanmar to prevent “extrajudicial killings or physical abuse; rape or other forms of sexual violence; burning of homes or villages; destruction of lands and livestock, deprivation of food and other necessities of life, or any other deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Rohingya group.”
Another of the provisional measures requested is that Myanmar “does not destroy or make the evidence related to these events inaccessible” or “destroy or render inaccessible any evidence related to the events described in the Application, including without limitation by destroying or rendering inaccessible the remains of any member of the Rohingya group who is a victim of alleged genocidal acts, or altering the physical locations where such acts are alleged to have occurred.”
The ICJ indicated that the December hearings will be dedicated to the submission of these provisional measures.
This is the second court in The Hague considering opening legal cases against Myanmar. On Nov. 14, International Criminal Court judges authorized an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Myanmar.
“The Chamber accepted that there exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and/or systematic acts of violence may have been committed that could qualify as the crimes against humanity of deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population,” the court announced.
Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens and for decades has subjected them to widespread discrimination, including restrictions on freedom of movement. EFE-EPA
Insurgents in Myanmar killed at least 15 people on Thursday (August 15) and partially destroyed a bridge along a major highway in attacks marking a major escalation in a decades-old ethnic conflict in the country’s northern region.
Video obtained by Reuters shows dead bodies lying on the road in Naung Cho township as soldiers tend to them, as well as debris across a bridge on the road to Lashio, the largest town in Shan state on the Myanmar-China trade route.
The Northern Alliance – a collection of armed groups in the region – claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also hit the Defence Services Technological Academy, an elite military college in Shan state.
The attacks were in response to recent army action in ethnic areas, said a spokesman for the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.
A months-long ceasefire agreement that ended in June was recently extended until August 31. (REUTERS)
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