Follow @southasiaanalys

Myanmar: Suu Kyi leading the delegation to ICJ- Implications

Paper No. 6518                      Dated 30-Nov-2019

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

It all began with Gambia on behalf of the OIC filed a Law suit at the United Nation’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Myanmar of breaching the 1948 Un Genocide Convention through a military campaign in Rakhine State. The ICJ with great alacrity took up the issue immediately and fixed December 12th for detailed hearing in the case!

What is known and not highlighted in the international media is that it was a response to an attack by a terrorist group of Rohingyas on the Police Posts when several Myanmar Policemen were hacked to death.

As the issue before the ICJ is of national concern and interest to all the people of Myanmar, Suu Kyi the State Councilor declared that she will herself lead a delegation with top international experts to argue the case before the ICJ when the case is to come up between December 10 and 12 of this year.

Ever since the announcement by Suu Kyi there has been unconditional outpouring of support and sympathy from people from all walks of life in Myanmar.  There have been public protests in support of Suu Kyi at many places in Myanmar.

But some supporters in Myanmar feel that it is a ‘bad idea’ for Suu Kyi to stick her neck out when there is a good chance and a risk of falling flat on her face! Suu Kyi by herself has no legal background but is taking several international experts to plead the case in the court.

Fully aware of the seriousness of the case and the risks  the country of facing international condemnation, President U Win Myint On 23rd November gathered top civilian and military officers including the Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing  to discuss the ICJ case coming up in Nay Pyi Taw.

The move of Suu Kyi has been welcomed by the Army that has declared that it is ready to support Suu Kyi in any manner to assist her in facing the genocide law suit.  Lt. Gen. Soe Myint who is next to the Army Chief is likely to accompany Suu Kyi to the Hague for the case.

An Army Spokesperson on 22nd November said that both the military and the civilian Government are behind the decision for Suu Kyi to defend her country against allegations of genocide at the UN’s top Court.

Sensing that a united defence against the genocide accusation at the national level may be misunderstood as a move against Muslims or Muslim Religion, a Foreign Office Press Note on 27th November, declared that “Myanmar is to strive in contesting the case, not to cast any aspersion on any nation, race, religion or group” in contesting/arguing in the case.

Some cynics say that the move by Suu Kyi to defend the Army at the international court is to win the sympathy and support of the Army in the hope that the latter would relent to some extent in the reforms she wants to make in the 2008 Constitution. Just this week, Suu Kyi in one of her meetings in Shan State expressed her desire that peace will take hold of her country in her lifetime.  This argument is too far-fetched and the Army is unlikely to relent in the near future to voluntarily give up its stranglehold in the administration of the country.

Another cynical view heard is that Suu Kyi has decided to go to the ICJ as this would certainly be seen  as a popular move that would be appreciated by both the civilian population and the Army and that in turn would help her in 2020 national elections.  Till now it was  generally felt that Suu Kyi may not get the same overwhelming mandate she got in the last General elections.

There is no doubt that Suu Kyi’s chances in the coming elections will be enhanced after her decision to go to the ICJ but this may not be enough to reach the scale and the decisive victory she got in the last elections!

Internationally Suu Kyi had to some extent lost her credibility for failing to stop the excesses against Rohingyas, little realizing that she had her own constraints and her own long-term agenda for stability, peace and prosperity of her country.  Internally too she had been losing her popularity even in Bamar areas besides the ethnic regions.

Perhaps this was one calculated move of hers to redeem herself.