Aung San Suu Kyi has been told her silence over allegations of sexual violence and rape carried out against Rohingya people in Myanmar "says far more than your words", on the third day of the international court of justice's hearing into accusations of genocide.
Professor Philippe Sands QC told the court: "Not a word [has been said by Aung San Suu Kyi] about the women and girls of Myanmar who have been subjected to these awful serial violations. Your silence says far more than your words," reports the Guardian.
Myanmar has not disputed at the ICJ hearing reports that 392 villages were destroyed in military clearance operations, or commented on widespread allegations of organised sexual violence and rape, the court was told.
Sands was speaking for the Gambia, which has brought the charge that Myanmar's military carried out mass murder, rape and destruction of Rohingya Muslim communities.
It alleges there have been "extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, burning of homes and destruction of livestock, calculated to bring about a destruction of the Rohingya group in whole or in part."
Sands told the tribunal that one of the lawyers representing Myanmar - Professor William Schabas, of Middlesex University – said during an interview with al-Jazeera in 2013 that the situation in Myanmar was approaching genocide. Sands read from Schabas's interview, in which he said: "We are moving into a zone where the word [genocide] can be used in the case of the Rohingya."
Myanmar cannot be trusted over trying own soldiers
Myanmar cannot be trusted to hold its soldiers accountable for alleged atrocities against its Rohingya Muslim minority, and measures to stop the violence need to be taken immediately, a lawyer presenting a genocide case against it said yesterday, reports Reuters.
Speaking at the ICJ in the case brought by Gambia under the 1948 Genocide Convention, the west African country's lead lawyer repeated its demand for 'provisional measures' to restrain the Myanmar military until the case is heard in full.
Paul Reichler, said Myanmar had not even tried during the hearings to deny most of the accusations of extreme violence made against its military, known officially as the Tatmadaw, nor of the mass deportation of Rohingya following a 2017 crackdown.
Statements from Myanmar that it was taking action to prosecute soldiers accused of wrongdoing were incredible, he said.
Genocide hearing closes, focus on trapped Rohingya
The three days of hearings have a narrower objective than deciding whether Myanmar's treatment of the mostly stateless minority group constitutes the gravest of international crimes. A determination of whether Myanmar, a mostly Buddhist country, is guilty of acting with genocidal intent could take years to make.
The point of this week's legal proceedings, instead, is to determine whether judges need to issue an emergency order to protect the Rohingya still in Myanmar from what United Nations investigators say is an ongoing genocidal campaign, reports the New York Times.
Yesterday, a Rohingya resident of Kyaut Taw Township in Rakhine said by telephone that more than 20 pregnant women in his village had died over the past couple of years because they could not get to a hospital to attend to complicated labours. Malnourishment can make pregnancies riskier.
Defiant Suu Kyi leads the defence
Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi had led her country's defence on Wednesday, telling the court the military-led "clearance operation" in western Rakhine State was a counterterrorism response to coordinated Rohingya militant attacks against dozens of police stations in August 2017.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate said that Myanmar "actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers that are accused of wrongdoing" and argued the tribunal, also known as the World Court, should not have jurisdiction, reports Reuters.
She said that even if there had been violations of humanitarian law during what she described as an internal conflict, they did not rise to the level of genocide and were not covered by the 1948 convention.
Myo Nyunt, spokesman for her National League for Democracy party, told Reuters by telephone that Suu Kyi had presented Myanmar's case "very detailed and precisely about the complicated Rakhine issue".
However, U Win Myint, a spokesman for the Rakhine State government alleged "Gambia's accusation that genocide is going on in Rakhine is nonsense because there are some Muslims still living here peacefully." He added "If you still can see them in Rakhine State, how can you say there is a genocide?"
Rohingya Muslims in camps in Cox's Bazar were praying that the suit succeeds. "Aung San Suu Kyi is a big liar. We hate her," said Hasmat Ali, 41, who fled to Bangladesh after the August 2017 crackdown.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to Bangladesh after the military launched its crackdown. The UN investigators have said 10,000 people may have been killed.