Written by Staff Writer
Aung San Suu Kyi’s court testimony has been banned from being reported in Myanmar, where it might jeopardize her Mynamar political future.
Testifying before the International Crimes Tribunal on November 12, the country’s de facto leader said she believes neither the then-communist junta nor the Rohingya could have been held responsible for crimes against humanity committed during the Rohingya crisis.
Her testimony has now been denied by the court.
“Even though my words will not lead the trial to conclusion, I want to say I have no prejudice against anybody in this trial and that I will only talk with those citizens who can understand my words because I don’t want to create any misunderstanding,” she said.
Her testimony also contravened an absolute ban on public reporting of Myanmar court proceedings, which has been enforced since 2015 when a leaked audio recording threatened to derail the peace process.
Her barrister told CNN that the domestic counsel was requested to issue a report to the tribunal alleging that the reporter had deliberately used Suu Kyi’s words in the transcript.
Aisha, a Rohingya woman who fled to Bangladesh and who lives in Saudi Arabia, spoke to CNN, saying she and her siblings had to flee home because their village was burned to the ground during the violence.
“As women, we are facing a lot of problems.”
A source close to the Myanmar government told CNN that the personal testimony of the defendant is closely vetted by the government in charge of the tribunal, which is the Northern Region Special Court (NRSC).
“Suu Kyi had no option but to give her testimony privately and in private. The government views her performance on this as a political slap on their face. We, therefore, hope this testimony won’t harm her chances of getting a post-tribunal role in future,” the source said.
Suu Kyi was awarded the prestigious 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for championing democracy in Myanmar.
Despite her legal obligations, she failed to mention any of the government’s official action taken to curb the violence or any trace of the suffering of the Rohingya.
“I am not qualified to judge whether anybody is responsible or not responsible,” she said.
Suu Kyi, 72, spent much of her lifetime under house arrest by the military junta that ruled the country for 50 years.
“The military will stay. Some of the other [government] leaders might have passed away or don’t exist anymore. I don’t know those politicians anymore.”
In a country where the military remains deeply involved in decision-making, the BBC reports that her testimony is highly contentious.
She was handed the tribunal with a public approval from the United Nations Committee Against Torture, but according to AFP she refused to comply with the tribunal as it cannot punish crimes “the military did not commit.”
Aylin Zafar, Amnesty International’s top expert on Myanmar, said she had been watching the proceedings with interest.
“I am glad that Aung San Suu Kyi did not say that the military has any role to play in the proceedings. But I still think that those criminals who still enjoy impunity have something to answer for,” she said.
“I think the international community should be more involved in the process.”
She also said she was happy to hear the testimony of a citizen outside Myanmar who had suffered during the violence.
“The tribunal made some interesting points. What really shines through her testimony is the lack of discrimination towards citizens. This is absolutely interesting,” she said.
“Many officials from the Myanmar government have never lived anywhere else. They’ve never lived in other communities. So I do believe that there’s much more awareness of international human rights standards in the region now.”