Lawyers in Australia are seeking to hold Myanmar’s civil leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, directly accountable for the violent persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
On Friday, lawyers filed a private prosecution application against Suu Kyi in the Melbourne magistrates court, accusing her of crimes against humanity, The Guardian reported.
A statement from the lawyers cited the “extensive and systematic crimes against the Muslim Rohingyan population by the Myanmar security forces.”
It added: “Suu Kyi has failed to use her position of authority and power, and, as such, has permitted the Myanmar security forces to deport and forcibly remove Rohingya from their homes.”
Before moving forward, the prosecution application would have to receive the consent of Australia’s attorney general, Christian Porter. The Guardian reported it’s unlikely Porter would consent ― Suu Kyi is expected in Sydney this weekend for the ASEAN Australia special summit, at the invitation of the Australian government.
International human rights groups have repeatedly denounced Myanmar’s government security forces for carrying out systemic violence against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group from the country’s Rakhine state.
Roughly 700,000 Rohingya have had to flee to neighboring Bangladesh to escape persecution. Human rights group Amnesty International has reported cases of rape, torture and other abuse by state officials, calling the state-sanctioned attacks “apartheid, a crime against humanity,” in a 2017 report.
On Monday, a United Nations special rapporteur said that the systemic abuse of Rohingya in Myanmar ”bear[s] the hallmarks of genocide.”
Meanwhile, Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has stayed largely silent on the attacks, dismissing reports of the military’s violence against the Rohingya as “misinformation.”
The Australian lawyers were able to apply to prosecute the Myanmar civil leader based on Australia’s recognition of the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” which states that a country can “exercise criminal jurisdiction over individuals responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern regardless of where the conduct occurs … crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity.”
Australian courts are assessing the application to prosecute Suu Kyi for crimes against humanity, according to The Guardian, and a response is expected next week.