Myanmar’s coup junta announced changes in the legal team representing the country on an accusation of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, local press reported Friday.
The Gambia argues the military murdered, raped, tortured, and razed entire villages, among other crimes against humanity, against this Muslim-majority population which Myanmar doesn’t recognize as citizens and which has suffered persecution for decades.
Suu Kyi led the defense in December 2019 of the soldiers’ actions before the court, while she held the positions of State Councilor and Foreign Minister. She was arrested in the wake of the military coup, led by Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, and numerous charges brought against her carrying lengthy prison terms.
Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, appointed by the military regime that took power in the Feb. 1 coup, will lead the legal team previously led by overthrown leader Aung San Suu Kyi, local news outlet Irrawaddy reported. Myanmar faces accusations of genocide against the Rohingya minority presented by the Gambia.
In addition to the minister, a reserve colonel and three other senior military officials will be part of the new legal team, consisting of a total of eight people, Myanmar’s official gazette published Thursday.
The accusation is based on the 2016 and 2017 campaigns orchestrated by the army against the Rohingya population settled in the west of the country and which was described by UN investigators as “ethnic cleansing with marks of genocide.”
The military claimed to have acted in defense of insurgent groups that allegedly attacked border police posts in an operation that saw more than 720,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh, where they remain with tens of thousands previously displaced, in the world’s largest refugee camp.
At least 880 people have died and more than 6,000 have been arbitrarily detained since the coup by forces of the military junta who have used military weapons to violently suppress peaceful protests, according to figures from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners.
The army justifies its uprising on alleged fraud in November’s legislative elections, seen as free and fair by the international community and in which Suu Kyi’s party obtained an overwhelming majority. EFE