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Responding to the statement made by Aung San Suu Kyi at the International Court of Justice in The Hague today, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

“Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population. In fact, she wouldn’t even refer to them by name or acknowledge the scale of the abuses. Such denials are deliberate, deceitful and dangerous.

“The exodus of more than three quarters of a million people from their homes and country was nothing but the result of an orchestrated campaign of murder, rape and terror. To suggest that the military ‘did not distinguish clearly enough between fighters and civilians’ defies belief. Likewise, the suggestion that Myanmar authorities can currently and independently investigate and prosecute those suspected of crimes under international law is nothing but a fantasy, in particular in the case of senior military perpetrators who have enjoyed decades of total impunity.

“While attention is focused on Aung San Suu Kyi today, let’s recall that this case is really about justice for the Rohingya community, including the 600,000 still in Rakhine State who are at risk of further crimes and urgently need protection. It’s also about the hundreds of thousands of refugees who can’t return to Myanmar. Despite what Suu Kyi has said today, it is not safe to do so.

“The Court and international community should move swiftly to protect Rohingya and prevent further atrocities. This includes ordering Myanmar to lift discriminatory restrictions, ensure humanitarian access, and cooperate fully with any international investigation.”

Background

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto head of state, is leading Myanmar’s delegation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, to respond to a case alleging that Myanmar has breached its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention. The case was filed by The Gambia on November 11, 2019.

Today, Myanmar responded to The Gambia’s allegations in court for the first time. The Gambia has asked the ICJ to order Myanmar to take ‘provisional measures’ ‘to protect the rights of the Rohingya group’ and prevent all acts that may amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide against the community, pending formal hearings on the case.

Amnesty International’s own investigation has identified 13 senior officials – including Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar military Senior General Min Aung Hlaing – as warranting investigation and prosecution for crimes against the Rohingya.