İrem UZUN -TDO- Today, a momentous legal confrontation will take place at the UN's highest court when the Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi appears in person to defend Myanmar against accusations of genocide. Once internationally feted as a human rights champion, Myanmar's state counselor is scheduled to lead a delegation to the international court of justice (ICJ) in The Hague. As she arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Sunday alongside Wouter Jurgens, the Dutch ambassador to Myanmar, she was greeted by a handful of supporters.
The case, the first international legal attempt to bring Myanmar to justice over alleged mass killings of the Rohingya minority, comes after the Gambia on November 11 filed an application at the ICJ, accusing Myanmar of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention. More than 700,000 Rohingya, a mostly-Muslim minority, fled to neighboring Bangladesh after a bloody crackdown in 2017 by the Myanmar military, which the United Nations investigators have concluded was carried out with "genocidal intent". Myanmar has long denied accusations of genocide and most allegations of targeted military-led violence, saying that the action it took was meant to protect the country against Rohingya "militants" while promising to punish soldiers involved in isolated cases of wrongdoing.
It is not the first time the tribunal, also known as the world court, has considered genocide cases - it dealt with several from the Balkan wars of the 1990s - but it is the first case involving countries that are not neighbors. The Gambia's case will be opened today by Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, the country's attorney general and justice minister, and it will urge the court to make an emergency declaration that Myanmar must halt a continuing genocide, and the court will consider whether it has jurisdiction and whether there is a plausible case to answer. Hearings will continue for 3 days and closing submissions from both sides will be made on Thursday.