Canadian lawyer William Schabas, who specialises in international criminal and human rights law, rejected the criticism for defending Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Schabas was the one to research systematic attack against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and later ended up defending the state against the alleged genocide. Schabas said both sides have a right to have competent representation, emphasising that he is an international lawyer and take up international law cases.
Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, lambasted Schabas saying the lawyer sold the Rohingya Muslims out for money. “William Schabas is basically selling out the Rohingya for some Myanmar gov't $$$. Really the worst sort of behavior, how totally immoral and two-faced,” tweeted Robertson. Another Human Rights activist shared a screenshot of a documentary where Schabas had admitted that the crimes against Rohingya Muslims can be called genocide.
On December 11, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi denied the genocide allegations against Myanmar’s military at The Hague. She blamed the Gambia, country that filed the case at the ICJ, of putting “an incomplete, misleading factual picture” of the situation in Rakhine state. The Nobel laureate questioned the accusations of “genocidal intent” citing that the state actively investigates and punishes anyone involved in wrongdoing.
Suu Kyi defence was followed by a statement from human rights organisation Amnesty International where it said that the denial must not distract people from the ongoing Rohingya crisis.
“Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director.
““The Court and international community should move swiftly to protect Rohingya and prevent further atrocities. This includes ordering Myanmar to lift discriminatory restrictions, ensure humanitarian access, and cooperate fully with any international investigation,” he added.