Aung San Suu Kyi to defend Myanmar as top UN court hears Rohingya genocide allegations

Aung San Suu Kyi sits in the courtroom of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands Credit: Peter Dejong/AP

The UN’s highest court is beginning a hearing into allegations of genocide in Myanmar over the military campaign against the Rohingya minority.

The country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to defend those who once held her under house arrest during the hearing in The Hague in the Netherlands.

Myanmar’s military began a harsh counterinsurgency campaign against the Rohingya in August 2017 in response to an insurgent attack.

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape what has been called an ethnic cleansing campaign involving mass rapes, killings and the torching of homes.

The head of a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar warned in October that “there is a serious risk of genocide recurring”.

It also found that Myanmar should be held responsible in international legal forums for alleged genocide against the Rohingya.

Gambia filed the case at the International Court of Justice, demanding that the world court take “all measures within its power to prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide”.

Gambia took the action on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.

People stand in the courtroom of the International Court of Justice in The Hague Credit: Peter Dejong/AP

Ms Suu Kyi, who was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for championing democracy and human rights under Myanmar’s then-ruling junta, will lead the Myanmar delegation to The Hague in her capacity as foreign minister.

She is expected to address the court on Wednesday.

Gambia is requesting that provisional measures be taken 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 in whole or in part".

This week’s hearings run until Thursday.