The Lady takes a gamble

Suu Kyi's strange decision to defend Myanmar against genocide charges aims to woo voters before a challenging election
The Lady takes a gamble

A Rohingya refugee watches a live feed of Aung San Suu Kyi's appearance at the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the Netherlands on Dec. 11. She told the U.N.'s top court that there was no 'genocidal intent' in Myanmar's crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in 2017 despite admitting that the army might have used excessive force. (Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP)

Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's seemingly strange and self-defeating decision (at least to international onlookers) to appear at the Rohingya genocide hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is very much a cold-blooded domestic political calculation. 

The hearing at The Hague in the Netherlands is to determine whether Myanmar has a case to answer on claims it has breached the 1948 Genocide Convention. It was brought by the small West African Muslim nation of The Gambia on behalf of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counselor and foreign minister, faces her second general election next year. She is searching for ways to boost her and her party’s popularity in an electoral system that is already rigged against them (and other parties) by reserving 25 percent of seats in both houses of parliament and in all state legislatures for the military.

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