British Rohingya activist fears retaliation over Hague genocide trial

One of the UK’s most prominent Rohingya activists says he fears for his young family’s safety after reports that ardent Myanmar government supporters have been looking for his home address ahead of the opening on Tuesday of a genocide trial in the Hague. 

Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi will personally appear at the International Court of Justice to defend her country’s regime from accusations of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority during the military’s brutal ethnic cleansing campaign in Rakhine State in 2017. 

Tun Khin, the president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, believes he is being targeted as an outspoken critic of the military’s actions. He intends to attend this week’s ICJ case in support of the Gambian-led lawsuit which charges genocide, including mass murder and rape. 

“I am very concerned to have received reports from different sources that some members of the #Burmese community in the UK, including someone close to the #Burmese embassy, have been trying to find out my home address,” he alleged on Twitter this weekend. 

Tun Khin believes he is being targeted for his activismCredit:
Juan Mabromata/AFP

A frenzy of nationalistic support for Ms Suu Kyi’s response to the genocide case had provoked a dangerous atmosphere, he claimed. “This creates a climate where supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi see any criticism of the government as unacceptable, even to the point where some will use threats and violence.”

Mr Tun told the Telegraph he had filed a police report, revealing that his home had been targeted during an earlier wave of state violence against the Rohingya in 2012, when his door was smashed. 

“I worry that this time is much more dangerous than that time because this is a big case,” he said, adding that he feared his two young children could be kidnapped. 

Among those offering support have been Labour MP Rushanara Ali and Human Rights Watch, whose deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said the potential threat needed to be “taken very seriously.” The Myanmar embassy did not respond to requests for comment. 

Myanmar citizens have been praising Aung San Suu Kyi for defending their national interestsCredit:
Reuters

Mr Tun called the Hague trial – one of the most high-profile international legal cases in a generation – a “historic moment” for the Rohingya minority. 

“The Rohingya have been facing serious discrimination, persecution and the destruction of the whole community for many years,” he said. 

Ms Suu Kyi, who has won plaudits at home by pledging to “defend the national interest” was pictured smiling as she walked through the airport in the nation’s capital, Naypyitaw, on Sunday. 

Thousands rallied in support of her court bid in the city over the weekend and a prayer ceremony was held in her name. 

Multiple demonstrations will be held in Myanmar during the three days of hearing this week when the Gambian legal team will ask the 16-member panel of United Nations judges at the ICJ to impose “provisional mesuares” to protect the Rohingya before the case can be heard in full. 

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