Aung San Suu Kyi becomes the poster child for Rohingya genocide

  • Nazmus Sakib
  • 16 Dec 2019

Myanmar's gamble to send Suu Kyi to represent the country at the International Court of Justice has backfired.

Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks on the second day of hearings in a case filed by Gambia against Myanmar alleging genocide against the minority Muslim Rohingya population, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands December 11, 2019. ( Reuters )

If someone wrote this title in the 90s, it would have seemed stranger than fiction. Who could have imagined in their wildest dreams that a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi would be on trial for genocide in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)?

What's even more bizarre is that she would be defending the same deep state that kept her under house arrest for over fifteen years. Legal experts widely believe that her politicking by presenting herself to the court, which is quite unusual in the ICJ’s history, will not be well received by the judges.

Judging by the global reactions so far, it is not far-fetched to say that not only was this a weak PR move by Suu Kyi, but she is fast losing whatever moral legitimacy she had left.

But why is Suu Kyi on trial? In the fall of 2017, the Myanmarese junta committed what has been termed as a textbook case of ethnic cleansing by the UN’s top human rights body and other human rights organisations, against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Rohingya women, children and men were killed, tortured, expelled. Rape was weaponised, and women later gave birth to children of war in refugee camps inside neighbouring Bangladesh.

About a million Rohingya fled as refugees to Bangladesh and are practically living in squalor in fenced-in ghettos.

In their over the top efforts to establish – to a limited number of journalists allowed inside Rakhine – that no massacre happened, the Myanmar government seemed to believe their propaganda and mistakenly thought there were no traces left for reporters to see.

However, Satellite images revealed by Human Rights Watch show that entire Rohingya villages were burnt to the ground overnight. By defending the genocidal regime repeatedly, Suu Kyi has proven to be the poster girl for the Myanmar junta.

Suu Kyi has repeatedly denied that any genocide took place against the Rohingya. Even during her ongoing trial in the ICJ, she failed to utter the word Rohingya, to stay in line with the Myanmar junta’s position not to utter the 'R' word.

Like all other genocidal figures, the tired democracy warrior Suu Kyi refused to acknowledge the very existence of the Rohingya people, their history, their heritage, and of course their politics.

To the likes of Suu Kyi, the Rohingya are simply infiltrator Bengalis. It does not matter to Suu Kyi and the genocidal regime she is happily cheerleading that archival documents establish the Rohingya and Arab Muslim presence in Rakhine (Arakan) from at least five hundred years back.

A genocide of this scale and suffering would not garner such a high level of apathy had it happened somewhere else - that is until the Gambia filed this case. The Rohingya are the poorest of the poor, they are deprived of the most basic human rights, including access to education or healthcare. They live in a part of the world that lacks natural resources to lure exploitative corporations or governments who could potentially develop an enclave economy that would employ at least a few of the Rohingya.

Neither is the state of Rakhine lucrative enough for a counter-China intervention by the US and other Western allies. But then, for the Rohingya, a godsend descended from a tiny strip of land more than 7,000 miles away: Gambia.

When one thinks about powerful Muslim countries, Gambia is undoubtedly not on the list. When anyone tries to name ten powerful African countries, Gambia does not make that list either. But, what the Gambia has proven is that it has the moral and political courage to lead by example and to usher in the triumph of the will.

Suu Kyi has ensured that her name will be written beside the likes of Radovan Karadzic - the butcher of Srebrenica. While the Gambia, and especially its justice minister Abubacarr Tambadou, has signed its name to the right side of history.

No wonder that in a very non-glamorous ceremony, the Rohingya in the refugee camps in Bangladesh expressed their unconditional love for the Gambia on the first day of the trial.

History is a witness that the most priceless support one can receive is from the most persecuted ones. It is in the interest of everybody - the Organisation of Islamic Countries, Turkey, and all principled Muslim and other nations - that by whatever means possible they should help the Gambia in its quest for justice in the ongoing trial. Or else the curse of the oppressed shall be with them too.

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