Suu Kyi in court as genocide case set out against Myanmar
December 10 2019 07:27 PM
Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi attends a hearing in a case filed by Gambia against Myanmar allegi
Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi attends a hearing 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

Reuters/The Hague

* Suu Kyi to defend Myanmar's record over Rohingya crisis
* Thousands rally in Yangon in support of Suu Kyi's stance
* Gambia lodged case at UN court
* Myanmar denies genocide allegations 

Mass rapes, the burning alive of Muslim Rohingya families in their homes and the killing with knives of dozens of children were described by Gambia's legal team as it set out its genocide case against Myanmar at the UN's highest court on Tuesday.
Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, looked on impassively as the alleged atrocities were detailed on the first of three days of hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The case was instituted by Gambia against Buddhist-majority Myanmar in November.
"All that The Gambia asks is that you tell Myanmar to stop these senseless killings," Gambia's Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said in opening comments.
"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."
Detailing events at the village of Min Gyi, Gambia's lawyer Andrew Loewenstein drew on witness accounts recorded in a report by UN investigators, who estimated 750 people were killed there, including more than 100 children under the age of 6.
"There were dead bodies on the floor: young boys from our village," Loewenstein quoted from one survivor's testimony to the UN fact-finding mission.
"As we entered the house, the soldiers locked the door. One soldier raped me. He stabbed me in the back of my neck and in my abdomen. I was trying to save my baby, who was only 28 days old, but they threw him on the ground and he died."
At the end of Tuesday's hearing Gambia asked the court to order special measures to protect the Rohingya. The so-called provisional measures would act as a kind of restraining order for the Myanmar military until the case is heard in full.
"Only in this way can we hope the rights of the Gambia and the safety of the Rohingya group be fully protected," said Philippe Sands, another lawyer for the tiny, West African country.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar after the military-led crackdown and were forced into squalid camps across the border in Bangladesh. The UN investigators concluded the military campaign was executed with "genocidal intent".
Myanmar has previously denied almost all allegations made by refugees against its troops, including of mass rape, killings and arson, and promised to punish any soldiers involved in what it says were isolated cases of wrongdoing.
Outside the court, dozens of Rohingya demonstrated to demand justice for victims. 
Once feted in the West, Suu Kyi has faced mounting international criticism over the Rohingya crisis. 
Gambia is arguing that Myanmar's forces carried out widespread and systematic atrocities that constituted genocide, and that in doing so Myanmar violated its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.
This week's proceedings, before a panel of 17 judges, will not deal with whether Myanmar is guilty of the most serious international crime, but will focus on Gambia's request for provisional measures. A decision on that request is expected within weeks.
The tribunal has no enforcement powers, but its rulings are final and have significant legal weight.
In the Bangladeshi refugee camps on Tuesday, hundreds gathered on a hilltop and chanted, "Gambia! Gambia!", pumping their fists. Some offered special prayers at mosques in the camps and many others were fasting.
"Our people were killed, our children were thrown into fire, our women were raped, our houses were burnt down. All we want is a fair trial," said Nurul Amin, 30.

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