The Great Hall of Justice of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherlands has been the scene of several historic trials. Those who have been subjected to trial there have included rulers, military generals and leaders who conducted such atrocities as would chill anybody's conscience. But it is a paradox that in the last few day a Nobel Peace prize winner has been facing trial in the same hall on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide. It is none other than Myanmar's ruler Aung San Suu Kyi, who was once an icon of advocates of democracy worldwide.
The charge against her is the Myanmar government's actions against Rohingyan Muslims living in the Rakhine province of Myanmar. In fact, the excesses against the Rohingya carried out jointly by the Myanmar regime and Buddhist extremists dates back over seven decades. But it got intensified from August 2017. Following the torture, over a million Rohingyas had to flee to countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia. Over 24,000 people were killed and 18,000 women were raped, as per figures given by international human rights agencies. What happened in Rakhine is the worst violence the world witnessed in the century, but because the Rohingy are a race without any economic and political clout, the international community did not pay heed to their pain at all.
It was Gambia, a tiny West African country, that took the issue of Rohingya to ICJ. And Suu Kyi's trial comes as proceedings on that complaint. Perhaps she wil be able to escape punishment thanks to technicalities or through legal loopholes. But then that would still leave the reality of a nobel peace laureate having to standing international trial for genocide. It would shock any human being to know the kind of gory cruelty presided over by a woman, whom the world had held in high esteem. That would also beg the question why it happens so.
Suu Kyi is known for the struggle she made to end the military dictatorship and to implement a democratic order in her country. But then after becoming a ruler, how could such a person lead the most brutal genocide? It is a classic example of how racism makes people blind. The very fact that during the last two days of trial Suu Kyi was not prepared even to utter the name Rohingya would speak for the contempt in which she held them. Although they are a small minority in Myanmar, her racism does not allow her to tolerate that race. Apparently her mind is inspired by nothing but the sons-of-the soil theory that Burma is for the Burmese. She is even driven by the fact that her very appearance in person and facing trial at ICJ, will add to her political capital in the election to be held in a few months. And that is a translation of the thought that by hurling helpless people into fire, extradicting them and raping them, and by thus delighting the majority, she can win political power. And these are times when in different parts of the world, this brand of narrow racism is showing all its monstrosity.
The sons-of-the soil theory itself is in fact a bizarre and baseless notion. Humanity came to where it is now by moving from one soil to another, immigrating and then building civilisations. Therefore, in a sense, all human beings are children of the soil. That leaves little relevance for the concept of any particular community alone being entitled to a land. But unfortuately this narrowness is making this planet a space full of brutality. If in Myanmar Suu Kyi - honoured for her endeavours in the cause of democracy – is leading it, the largest democracy of India is in an effort to turn a sizeable section of the country into non-citizens. The ruling establishment here is thinkikng how it can strip those who it does not like, of their citizenship by enacting Citizenship Amendment Bill and by implementing National Register of Citizens for the entire country. To be noted is the fact that what the Myanmar regime denied to the Rohingyas first was their citizenship. Denial of citizenship is the beginning of making people have no 'right to have rights'. It is the name of a process of stratifying human beings into layers and eliminating one section. The democratic leader, Suu Kyi and the democratic country of India alike are currently traversing along that path. Does the idea that all mankind are children of human being, still fail to claim our attention?