Myanmar leader defends genocide claims


Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi has defended her country against allegations of genocide at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Gambia filed the case at the ICJ, alleging that Myanmar violated the 1948 Genocide Convention by committing atrocities against Muslim Rohingya during an army crackdown in 2017.

Thousands of Rohingya were killed in the violence with over 700,000 others fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

But Myanmar’s leader said The Gambia’s claims are factually misleading.

“Regrettably, The Gambia has placed before the court a misleading and incomplete picture of the situation in Rakhine state,” said Suu Kyi.

She argues that the military’s clearance operations in Rakhine, where many Rohingya lived, were a justifiable response to acts of “terrorism” by rebels and says its soldiers acted appropriately.

“Please bear in mind this complex situation and the challenge to sovereignty and security in our country when you are assessing the intent of those who attempted to deal with the rebellion,” she said. “Surely under the circumstances, genocidal intent cannot be the only hypothesis.”

Suu Kyi acknowledged that the army may have used force but that did not prove it was trying to wipe out the minority group.

As of 30 September, there were 915,000 Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh. Almost 80% arrived between August and December 2017, and in March this year, Bangladesh said it would accept no more.

For now, The Gambia is just asking the court to impose “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingya in Myanmar and elsewhere from further threats or violence.

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