Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi has shocked critics around the world after travelling to The Hague to head her country's delegation at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The renowned human rights activist appeared before judges at the ICC to defend her country's military against genocide allegations.
Her country, Myanmar, was dragged before the ICC by the Gambia to answer for the genocide crimes committed against the Rohingya Muslim minority. The issue is known worldwide, and critics have continued to call for justice to prevail and for Myanmar generals involved in the mass killings, rape, and displacement to answer for their crimes.
Human rights activists all over the world have supported the trial and called for further investigation and prosecution. Still, the role of Aung San Suu Kyi no doubt complicates the issue.
Aung San Suu Kyi defended genocide allegations against Myanmar's military on earlier today amid accusations of mass killings, rape, and expulsion of the Rohingya Muslim minority.
You can recall that The Gambia, a small West African country, launched the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations's highest court, alleging it violated the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Speaking to the judges at the ICC, a highly respected Aung San Suu Kyi said:
"The Gambia has placed an incomplete and misleading picture of the factual situation in Rakhine State," adding that "genocidal intent" cannot be the only hypothesis in the case of Myanmar.
"Can there be genocidal intent on the part of the state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers, who are accused of wrongdoing? Although the focus here is on members of the military, I can assure you that appropriate action will be taken on civilian offenders, in line with due process."
She said the situation in Rakhine state was "complex" as she acknowledged the "suffering" of the Rohingya minority, many of whom have fled to safety in neighbouring Bangladesh.
But she repeatedly termed a bloody crackdown in 2017 as "internal conflict", saying Myanmar's military was responding to attack by armed local groups, such as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
Aung San Suu Kyi - once a human rights icon who fought against the powerful military for democracy - has shocked critics and galvanised supporters at home by travelling to The Hague to head her country's delegation.
"We [are] witnessing one of history's shocking moments: Suu Kyi denying and dismissing credible findings of the genocide of Rohingyas by Myanmar," academic Maung Zarni told Al Jazeera.
"As a Burmese, I am so ashamed and outraged at the same time by what I am about to hear - lies and deceptions."
Aung San Suu Kyi listened impassively on Tuesday as lawyers for The Gambia detailed graphic testimony of suffering of Rohingya at the hands of Myanmar's security forces, including gang rape, torture, and murder.
"It was very important to see her have to sit inches away from people who were describing - in really painfully excruciating detail - all the horrible crimes of the Burmese military that happened on her watch," Brad Adams, of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), told Al Jazeera.
In three days of hearings this week, judges hear the first phase of the case: The Gambia's request for "provisional measures" - the equivalent of a restraining order - against Myanmar to protect the Rohingya population until the case is heard in full.
The Gambia has argued that it is every country's duty under the 1948 Convention to prevent genocide from taking place. It has political support from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, as well as several Western nations including Canada and the Netherlands.
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Source: Al Jazeera
Header Image Credit: Peter Dejong/The Associated Press