Myanmar leader Suu Kyi departs for genocide hearings amid fanfare at home

YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar leader and Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi departed on Sunday for the U.N’s top court in The Hague to defend the country against charges of genocide of its Rohingya Muslim minority.

Suu Kyi was pictured smiling as she walked through the airport in the nation’s capital, Naypyitaw, flanked by officials, a day after thousands rallied in the city to support her and a prayer ceremony was held in her name.

Crowds are expected to gather again in the afternoon to send off several dozen supporters who will travel to The Hague in the Netherlands and demonstrations are planned throughout the coming week, with hearings set for Dec. 10 to 12.

Gambia, a tiny, mainly Muslim West African country, filed a lawsuit in November accusing Buddhist-majority Myanmar of genocide, the most serious international crime, against its Rohingya Muslim minority.

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

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in 2017 after a brutal military-led crackdown the U.N has said was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings and rape.

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