Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi testified before the United Nations’ top court on Wednesday, defending her government from accusations of genocide against the Muslim Rohingya in the Asian nation.
Suu Kyi, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner who was once confined by military rule in Myanmar, told the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands the accusations were “incomplete and misleading.”
She said the separatist Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army is at the root of the violence, and forced Myanmar forces to respond. The leader said disputes in the Rakhine region are mired in generations of conflict.
“The situation in Rakhine state is complex and not easy to fathom,” Suu Kyi said. “The troubles in Rakhine state go back into past centuries and have been particularly severe. ARSA seeks independence for Rakhine, finding inspiration from the [ancient] Arakan kingdom.”
Human rights officials have accused the Myanmar military in a wide range of crimes against the Muslim Rohingya, including mass executions, sexual violence and arson, as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign.
Suu Kyi has shared power with the military since her party won elections in 2015. Since then, she’s been criticized for slowly responding to the violence, which has forced many Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
U Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s political party, rejected accusations by United Nations and other human watch observers.
“We have already prepared to rebut these accusations,” Myo Nyunt said. “The fact-finding mission report is from respected persons from the international community but their report is not complete because of a lack of evidence.”
Gambia Justice Minister Abubacarr M. Tambadou, who brought the charges to the court on behalf of the Rohingya, called on the international community to take stronger measures against Myanmar.