December 17, 2019

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi: 'Defending the indefensible'

13 Dec 2019

We discuss Aung San Suu Kyi's appearance at the International Court of Justice with rights activist Maung Zarni.

This week Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to defend her country against accusations of genocide, in a lawsuit brought by The Gambia.

The Nobel peace laureate rejected the allegations that Myanmar's military - that for 15 years kept her under house arrest - committed genocide against the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority in her country as "incomplete and misleading".

Burmese human rights campaigner Maung Zarni has lived in exile for more than 20 years and was one of the first people to accuse Myanmar of genocide. He believes Aung San Suu Kyi is "defending the indefensible" and wants to see her in the dock at the International Criminal Court.

"She is not a puppet. She is proactively defending, passionately and defiantly defending the indefensible, she is fully culpable. She is criminally responsible," Zarni said.

Myanmar's 2017 military crackdown in Rakhine State has forced more than 700,000 people to flee and the UN estimates some 10,000 people have been killed. Rights groups, along with the UN, say the army has been involved in murder, mass rape and the razing of entire villages.

"Aung San Suu Kyi is not simply defending the Burmese military, which is only an organ of the state. Aung San Suu Kyi is there defending Myanmar as a member state and its racist society," Zarni said.

Zarni said he was extremely saddened that Suu Kyi still has a lot of support inside the country; tens of thousands of people attended rallies in Myanmar as she departed for the Netherlands.

The ICJ tribunal has no enforcement powers, but Zarni believes this is a milestone in the struggle by the Rohingya to gain recognition for the crimes to which they've been subjected.

"Facts on the ground are not likely to change. However, this is one of the very, very few venues for pressure, accountability and justice," Zarni said.

This week's special interview is with Burmese rights campaigner Maung Zarni.

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