RANGOON, Burma -- About 700 people rallied Sunday to show support for Burma's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, as she prepares to defend the country against charges of genocide at the U.N.'s highest court.
Members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party swelled the ranks in front of the colonial-era City Hall in Rangoon, Burma's largest city, as the crowd waved national flags and listened to music and poetry. A popular local singer told them that "Mother Suu is the bravest human being in the world -- her weapon is love."
Many carried banners saying, "We stand with you, Mother Suu."
The case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague relates to a harsh counterinsurgency campaign waged by Burma's military against members of the country's Muslim Rohingya community in August 2017 in response to an insurgent attack.
More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape what has been called an ethnic cleansing campaign involving mass rapes, killings and the torching of homes.
The head of a U.N. fact-finding mission on Burma warned recently that "there is a serious risk of genocide recurring."
Gambia filed the case at the International Court of Justice, also known as the world court, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The case claims that Burma's actions against the Rohingya are "genocidal in character because they are intended to destroy the Rohingya group in whole or in part."
Burma has strongly denied the charges but says it stands ready to take action against wrongdoers if there is sufficient evidence.
A statement on the website of the Ministry of the Interior said recently that the renewed international pressure on the country was due to a lack of understanding of "the complexities of the issue and the narratives of the people of Myanmar."
Burma is often called Myanmar, a name that military authorities adopted in 1989. Some nations, such as the United States and Britain, have refused to adopt the name change.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will lead the delegation to The Hague in her capacity as foreign minister.
Hearings are due to start on Dec. 10. The case is expected to last several years.
A Section on 12/02/2019
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