The activists said in their suit, filed in Argentina on Wednesday, that Suu Kyi and her government were complicit in ethnic cleansing and genocide charges against the Rohingya for failing to condemn the army’s brutal crackdown and helping cover them up.
The lawsuit, led by Argentine human rights lawyer Tomas Ojea, was submitted under the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” a legal concept stating that some acts, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, are so horrific they are not specific to one country and can be tried elsewhere.
Ojea, who acted as the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar between 2008 and 2014, said the case, backed by two Argentine human rights groups demanded that top military and political leaders, including army chief Min Aung Hlaing and Suu Kyi be brought to justice over the “existential threat” faced by the Rohingya Muslim minority.
600,000 Rohingya under serious risk of genocide: UNA UN fact-finding mission says Myanmar continues to harbor genocidal intent toward the Rohingya.
“This complaint seeks the criminal sanction of the perpetrators, accomplices and cover-ups of the genocide. We are doing it through Argentina because they have no other possibility of filing the criminal complaint anywhere else,” the human rights lawyer said.
“I have seen first-hand the suffering of Rohingya people. It’s time for justice to be done,” Ojea added, hoping international arrest warrants would be issued as a result of the suit.
The Wednesday complaint marks the first time Suu Kyi, a Nobel “Peace” Laureate, has been legally targeted over the Rohingya crisis.
A separate case was also filed on Monday against Myanmar by Gambia at the Hague-based International Court of Justice. The suit, launched on behalf of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), accused Myanmar of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.
Myanmar faces genocide accusations over Rohingya treatmentMyanmar’s government faces accusations of involvement in genocide.
Last year, Human rights group Amnesty International said Myanmar’s top military officials must be tried at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority country.
More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s northwestern state of Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh following a military-led crackdown in 2016 that the UN has said was perpetrated with “genocidal intent.”
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017.