UN orders Myanmar to stop Rohingya genocide
Landmark ruling ‘obliterates’ any remnants of Aung San Suu Kyi’s international reputation
The top court at the United Nations has ordered Myanmar to prevent acts of genocide against its minority Rohingya population, effectively imposing an injunction against further action while the main trial takes place.
In what CNN described as a “landmark case” at The Hague, the tiny West African nation of Gambia asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to enact provisional measures to compel the Myanmar government and military to end all acts that amount to or contribute to genocide, and to ensure Myanmar preserves evidence that could play a part in the case to come.
Thousands were killed and more than 740,000 majority-Muslim Rohingya forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh in 2017 as part of a military crackdown which also included gang rape, mass killings and torture.
“The emergency measures act like an injunction while the main genocide case gets underway,” says CNN, adding that the central trial “could take years to reach a verdict”.
Reuters reports that Rohingya activists, who had come from all over the world to the Hague, “reacted with joy to the unanimous ruling which also explicitly recognised their ethnic minority as a protected group under the  Genocide Convention”.
Writing in the Financial Times, Nobel prize winner and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who defended the regime in front of the ICJ in December, criticised “the ways in which unsubstantiated narratives are relied upon by the UN and non-governmental organisations”.
“The international justice system may not yet be equipped to filter out misleading information before shadows of incrimination are cast over entire nations and governments,” she wrote.
However, John Reed for the FT says the ruling represents a “stinging rejection of arguments made personally by Aung San Suu Kyi” with BBC Myanmar correspondent Nick Beake claiming “this judgment has surely obliterated any remnants” of her international reputation.
“Even her biggest critics used to acknowledge she doesn't control the still powerful Burmese army, but now she has destroyed the firewall between her and the generals by trying - and failing - to justify their actions,” Beake says.
But while her decision to defend the actions of the military regime have startled international observers, Suu Kyi’s appearance in front of the ICJ won widespread approval back home ahead of elections later this year.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––