See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

Aung San Suu Kyi denies genocidal intent on Rohingya

She urges world court to let Myanmar justice system work.


Written by

Updated: December 12, 2019

Denying that Myanmar had genocidal intent in its treatment of the Rohingya people, its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday (Dec 11) urged the International Court of Justice in The Hague to let her country’s justice system run its course.

“Can there be genocidal intent on the part of a state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers who are accused of wrongdoing?” she asked at the world court, while presenting her opening statement on the second day of public hearings related to Gambia’s lawsuit alleging that Myanmar had breached the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Carefully avoiding the word “Rohingya”, Ms Suu Kyi said Gambia has given “an incomplete and misleading factual picture”.

She referred in her half-hour speech to the ongoing work of Myanmar’s appointed Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), which last month said it had interviewed some 1,500 witnesses, and was also speaking to policemen and soldiers who were on the scene in 2017. The military last month  also opened a rare court martial probe to the public.

“It cannot be ruled out that disproportionate force was used by members of the defence services in some cases in disregard of international humanitarian law,” Ms Suu Kyi said.

Soldiers found to have committed war crimes would be prosecuted under Myanmar’s military justice system, she said. “Such conduct, if proven, could be relevant under international humanitarian law or human rights conventions but not under the 1949 Genocide Convention.”

She acknowledged that sometimes military justice was rolled back, like when seven soldiers were sentenced to 10 years’ jail last year for the killing of Rohingya in a village but then were pardoned just eight months later. “Many of us in Myanmar were unhappy with this pardon,” she said.

Ms Suu Kyi warned “impatient international actors” against trying to leapfrog Myanmar’s domestic justice system.

The suggestion that no accountability can be achieved through Myanmar’s military justice system, she said, “undercuts painstaking domestic efforts relevant to the establishing of cooperation between the military and the civilian government in Myanmar, in the context of a Constitution that needs to be amended to complete the process of democratisation”.

Myanmar’s military-drafted Charter reserves a quarter of all Parliament seats and three key ministerial portfolios for military appointees. Its armed forces operate with little civilian oversight.

Wednesday’s ICJ hearing was about provisional measures that Gambia had requested the court to order. These included preventing the destruction of evidence of the alleged genocide as well as what Gambia has called the ongoing genocide against some 600,000 Rohingya Muslims who remain in Myanmar under precarious circumstances.

About 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after an attack by Rohingya insurgents in 2017 triggered a military crackdown that international investigations have likened to ethnic cleansing. Naypyitaw does not recognise the Rohingya as an ethnic group.

Myanmar has been criticised for denying access to international investigators and for convening its own commissions which observers say are toothless.

Pinpointing the role of Myanmar military leaders in the Rohingya issue, the United States on Tuesday toughened sanctions against the army chief Min Aung Hlaing by freezing any assets he had in the US and making it illegal for anyone in the US to make a financial transaction with him. The same sanctions were applied to three other senior military commanders.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

China pledges international pandemic aid

 Producers of medical goods urged to meet demand from affected countries. China has pledged to do its best to offer aid to countries and international organisations affected by COVID-19 to help contain the outbreak, and businesses are being urged to boost production of epidemic prevention materials to meet demand from abroad. The announcement was made at a meeting of the leading group of China’s coronavirus response, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Relevant departments and local authorities must step up co-ordination to closely monitor and analyse the quick spread of the outbreak outside China and roll out more targeted measures to prevent the import and export of infection, the group said in a statement. It is important to further


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Diplomacy

Back to work in Beijing, with tough measures in place

 Mandatory quarantine for those coming from overseas; some Wuhan businesses may reopen. As most of China attempts to return to normalcy after an extensive lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the capital Beijing has been carefully trying to strike a balance between having people restart work while also trying to keep out imported infections, and yesterday ordered a mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as the Hubei government announced that some businesses in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicentre, would gradually be allowed to reopen. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, his first visit to the city since the outbreak, a sign that the crisis could finally be easing after the government’s toug


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Diplomacy

Xi vows victory over coronavirus in Wuhan

President expresses condolences to families of people who died in epidemic. President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak remains the top priority and most important task, even amid the recent positive signs. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during his inspection tour in the outbreak’s epicentre, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said, adding that initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi encouraged local residents and front-line worke


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Diplomacy

China sets example in fighting virus

Epidemic reveals inadequacies in global governance; Beijing says it’s ready to help. China’s response to novel coronavirus pneumonia has set an example for the world in coping with the contagion and offered experience in advancing global public health governance, officials and experts said. The COVID-19 outbreak has also raised the alarm about global public health security and reminded countries that co-operation and co-ordination are needed to deal with challenges as infectious diseases can rapidly escalate into global emergencies, they said. There is a growing positive momentum in epidemic control nationwide thanks to the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures that China has taken to contain the virus, they said, noting that the daily


By China Daily
March 10, 2020

Diplomacy

More than 800,000 people return Beijing under quarantine

“There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. About 827,000 people who came back to Beijing from outside the city are still in a 14-day quarantine to see if they had been infected with the novel coronavirus, an official said on Friday. “There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. Z


By China Daily
March 9, 2020

Diplomacy

South Korea declares third city as special care zone as cases spike

President Moon receives letter of support from North Korean leader as infected cases cross 6,000. South Korea has declared a third city a “special care zone” to boost its capability to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases nationwide soaring beyond 6,000. The death toll stands at 42, mostly the elderly with underlying health conditions, while 88 people have recovered, including 47 discharged yesterday. The care zone announcement came as the presidential Blue House revealed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a letter on Wednesday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing support and comfort to the people battling the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he is confident they will “prevail in this fight wit


By The Straits Times
March 6, 2020