Before becoming Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest for defying the country’s feared generals. Now, the Nobel peace laureate faces an attempt to have her imprisoned for supporting them.
A lawsuit filed in Argentina on Wednesday alleges the former human rights icon contributed to a genocidal campaign against the Rohingya minority that included military-led mass killings in August 2017.
Among other things, she oversaw government policies “tending towards the annihilation of the Rohingya”, such as confining them to “ghettos” with severely limited access to healthcare and education, the lawsuit said.
“For the cycle of violence to end, it is crucial that all those responsible for the genocide – whether they wear a uniform or not – are brought to justice,” said Tun Khin, president of the London-based Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), which filed the case at a federal court in Buenos Aires.
Efforts at securing justice for the Rohingya have so far largely focussed on top generals who orchestrated the 2017 killings in coastal Rakhine state, including the military’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.
Some, such as former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, have defended Aung San Suu Kyi by arguing she has little control over the military, which maintains ultimate power in Myanmar despite allowing a largely free-and-fair election in 2015.
But the criminal complaint against her said she used what power she did have to help, rather than hinder, efforts to destroy the Rohingya.
“The entire genocidal plan … could not have been deployed without the complementation, the coordination, the support or the acquiescence of the different civilian authorities,” the complaint said.