Ten US Senators have severely criticized Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for representing the military’s interest before the International Court of Justice and defending the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities.
“Representing the Burmese military’s interest before The Hague and defending the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities would undermine what remaining credibility you have before the international community, including in the US Congress,” said a letter to Suu Kyi issued on December 9.
The Senators said a defense of the Burmese military at this high-profile international forum is also an affront to the inclusive, multi-cultural and democratic Burma that she claims to champion.
They said when Buddhist nationalism is on the rise in Myanmar, shielding military’s criminal acts sends a signal that Suu Kyi stands alongside human rights violators.
On December 10, the International Court of Justice (ICJ)at The Hague began a three-day hearing of the case that The Gambia filed on November 11, accusing Myanmar of genocide against the Rohingya.
At the ICJ, Suu Kyi denied that the Myanmar military committed genocide, arguing that the crackdown was a response to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacks on the police posts in Rakhine and that it was merely an internal conflict.
The Gambia made strong arguments to prove that Myanmar committed genocide and that it is ongoing and sought provisional measures to protect the Rohingya in Rakhine state.
Myanmar’s handling of brutal “clearance operations” that killed thousands and caused more than 740,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh since August 2017 is inexcusable, said the 10 US Senators.
They said while it is ultimately up to the court to determine the criminal accountability, evidence of crimes committed by the Burmese military is overwhelming.
“We are also concerned about the estimated 600,000 Rohigya who remain in Burma, whose living conditions have worsened. They continue to face persecution and are at risk of genocide,” the letter said.
The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar makes it clear that Myanmar government incurs “state responsibility” under the prohibition against genocide and crimes against humanity, which will be important for the ICJ to consider.
“We urge you to fully cooperate with the ICJ. This should include moving forward with any provisional actions that might be recommended or discussed at the ICJ.
“Your government must also provide complete and unfettered access throughout the county to the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar so that they may investigate all allegations of crimes under international law and other human rights violations and abuses.”
They said they stand ready to support Myanmar if Suu Kyi chooses to take the crucial moment on the international stage to defend the human rights of the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities in Burma.
“However, a failure to do so means we will continue to use instruments of US diplomatic power to bring the Burmese military to account for the injustices committed. A democratic and rights-respecting, inclusive Burma is the only successful path forward,” the US Senators said.
The Senators include Marsha Blackburn, Richard J Durbin, Todd Young, Tammy Baldwin, Brian Schatz, Jeffrey A Merkley, Chris Van Hollen, Robert P Casey Jr, Benjamin L Cardin and Ron Wyden.