Rights groups call for Myanmar boycott ahead of Rohingya genocide trial

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi (left) is greeted by a Myanmar official upon arrival at Rotterdam Airport. (AP pic)

THE HAGUE:  Human rights campaigners supporting Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority on Monday called for a global boycott of the country, a day before genocide hearings begin at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday, will defend her country’s record during three days of hearings initiated after a lawsuit was filed by Gambia in November.

Suu Kyi’s office posted a picture of her arrival at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport where she was greeted by the ambassador to the Netherlands and then headed to The Hague, where the World Court is located.

Several demonstrations are planned in coming days in the Dutch city by Rohingya survivor groups, as well as by government supporters.

Gambia, a tiny, mainly Muslim West African country, filed the suit in which the Buddhist-majority Myanmar is accused of genocide, the most serious international crime, against its Rohingya Muslim minority.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in 2017 after a brutal military-led crackdown.

The United Nations has said the campaign was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings and rape.

During three days of hearings, it will ask the 16-member panel of UN judges at the International Criminal Court of Justice to impose “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingya before the case can be heard in full.

The Free Rohingya Coalition said in a statement it was starting the “Boycott Myanmar Campaign” with 30 organisations in 10 countries.

It called on “corporations, foreign investors, professional and cultural organisations to sever their institutional ties with Myanmar”.

It said the boycott was intended to “to bring to bear economic, cultural, diplomatic and political pressure on Myanmar’s coalition government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the military”.