Aung San Suu Kyi condemned in court for ignoring sexual violence against Myanmar's Rohingya

Myanmar leader appeared at International Court of Justice to defend military against accusations of genocide

epa08064831 Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi (C) departs on the last day of the genocide case against Myanmar at the Peace Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands, 12 December 2019. Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi defended her country at the International Court of Justice against accusations of genocide filed by The Gambia, following the 2017 Myanmar military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority.  EPA/SEM VAN DER WAL
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Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised in the UN’s International Court of Justice over her failure to address sexual violence against the Rohingya.

Lawyers, seeking to halt what they have said is the continuing genocide perpetrated by the military in the country, hit out at the Nobel Peace Prize winner saying she had ignored “unspeakable” crimes and sexual violence against Myanmar’s Muslim minority.

"We heard nothing about sexual violence from Myanmar yesterday, not a single word about it," lawyer Paul Reicher told the world court.

"Because it is undeniable and unspeakable, they chose to ignore it completely. I can't really blame them. I would hate having to be the one to defend it."

Ms Suu Kyi, who testified for the first time before the court in The Hague on Wednesday, looked on impassively during Mr Reicher’s argument.

Emergency legal proceedings at the UN’s top court to decide whether Myanmar’s military has committed genocide against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority are continuing.

The Gambia, which has brought the case on behalf of other Muslim Nations, requested the hearings and alleges the atrocities against the Rohingya continue.

In her testimony before the court on Wednesday, Ms Suu Kyi said the allegations of a genocide in the Rohingya’s Rakhine state were misleading.

"Regrettably, The Gambia has placed before the court a misleading and incomplete picture of the situation in Rakhine state," she told the court.

Ms Suu Kyi tried to play down the sectarian violence in the region by saying the problems go back centuries.

The UN’s investigators have said about 10,000 people, including women and children, may have been killed during Myanmar’s military crackdown.

As a result, more than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh where they live in the world’s biggest refugee camp, Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her dogged opposition to Myanmar's military, has been roundly criticised for defending it in the face of the ICJ case.

Amnesty International said that her denials to the court were “deliberate, deceitful and dangerous”.

“The exodus of more than three quarters of a million people from their homes and country was nothing but the result of an orchestrated campaign of murder, rape and terror,” said Amnesty's regional director, Nicholas Bequelin.

“While attention is focused on Aung San Suu Kyi today, let’s recall that this case is really about justice for the Rohingya community who are at risk of further crimes and urgently need protection."