Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi faced calls for Myanmar to "stop the genocide" of Rohingya Muslims as she personally led her country's defence at the UN's top court on Tuesday.
Myanmar's civilian leader sat through graphic accounts of mass murder and rape as the west African state of The Gambia set out its case at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. She is expected to disputes claims that Myanmar tried to exterminate minority Rohingya Muslims.
Around 740, 000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after a bloody crackdown by the Myanmar military in 2017 that UN investigators have already described as genocide.
Gambia launched the first bid to bring Myanmar to international justice over the bloodshed, accusing the southeast Asian nation of breaching the 1948 Genocide Convention.
"All that The Gambia asks is that you tell Myanmar to stop these senseless killings. To stop these acts of barbarity and brutality that have shocked and continue to shock our collective conscience. To stop this genocide of its own people," Gambia's Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said in an opening statement at the tribunal, also known as the World Court.
"Another genocide is unfolding right before our eyes yet we do nothing to stop it," Tambadou added, a former prosecutor at the tribunal into Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
"Every day of inaction means more people are being killed, more women are being raped and more children are being burned alive. For what crime? Only that they were born different."
Suu Kyi, who 28 years ago today was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is set to speak in Myanmar's defence on Wednesday. She is expected to argue that Myanmar was conducting legitimate operations against Rohingya militants and that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in the case.
Suu Kyi was once mentioned in the same breath as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
The 74-year-old's international reputation has been tarnished by her silence over the plight of the Rohingya, and her defence of the same generals who once kept her under house arrest.
Thousands of people back home in Yangon rallied in support of Suu Kyi.
The case will also be watched in Bangladesh, where the Rohingya were forced to flee into sprawling camps by the bloody campaign in Myanmar's northwestern Rakhine state.
Source: Trt World