Aung San Suu Kyi has arrived at The Hague where she is expected to defend Myanmar against genocide charges.
The country’s de facto leader, a Nobel Peace laureate, is expected to argue that the military operations in question were a legitimate counter-terrorism response to attacks by Rohingya militants.
Member’s of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority were said to have been praying for justice last night ahead of the hearing in the Netherlands.
The West African country Gambia, which has a predominately Muslim population, launched proceedings against Buddhist-majority Myanmar in November.
Gambia has accused it of violating its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.
It is only the third genocide case filed at The Hague, the UN’s International Court of Justice, since World War Two.
Gambia will argue Myanmar’s forces carried out widespread and systematic atrocities under a campaign known as “operation clearance” from August 2017 that constituted genocide.
This week’s proceedings before a panel of 17 judges will not deal with the core allegation of genocide, but Gambia has requested a court order for Myanmar to halt any activity that may aggravate the dispute.
Gambia’s court has accused Myanmar of genocidal acts “intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses”.