Burma

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Offers Personal Thanks to Myanmar Supporters in The Hague

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 13 December 2019

THE HAGUE, Netherlands—Appearing before the United Nations’ highest court is stressful, especially when you are representing your country and defending its interests. And, what’s more, when most of those you once counted as friends are no longer on your side.

But this is what Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi might have felt as she led Myanmar’s delegation nearly 9,000 kilometers to The Hague to present oral arguments in the Rohingya genocide case filed against the country by The Gambia. Most of the governments in the West who used to be strong supporters of the State Counselor now criticize her for her perceived silence on the Rohingya issue.

However, there were encouraging moments before and after the Myanmar legal team’s court appearances on Wednesday and Thursday that might have lifted her spirits.

Whenever her black motorcade rolled through the gate of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Myanmar’s de facto leader could see a few hundred people lining up outside the compound through the tinted window of her car. Braving freezing temperatures as low as 6 degrees Celsius, they clutched pictures of her, and placards reading “We Stand with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi” were held high. When the cars passed them, they erupted into shouts of “Long Live Mother Suu!”

They were Myanmar people who live, work or study both in and outside Europe. Including supporters from as far away as Myanmar and Australia, they gathered outside the ICJ to give moral support to their leader as she defended their country.

Their dedication paid off on Thursday afternoon when the State Counselor invited some of them to attend an event at which she personally expressed her appreciation for their support. Another group was expected to meet her on Friday.

“She said she acknowledged what we did and thanked us,” said Ma Thant Htet Yee Mon, one of the attendees.

“She said she doubted whether other people would do the same if their countries were facing the same situation as ours, and that she was glad to see we are unified when the situation calls for it,” said a master’s student in Public Health who traveled from Sweden.

The gathering took place in The Hague and was attended by 80 people. The State Counselor left for the event right after delivering her closing remarks at the ICJ on Thursday afternoon.

Another attendee, Ma Pyae Pyae Tun—who traveled from Denmark—said that during the nearly hourlong meeting, most of the supporters personally wished Daw Aung San Suu Kyi good health. The leader told them that despite being materially less developed than some other countries, Myanmar is morally strong, referring to their show of unity and support for their leader during the ICJ case. In Myanmar, throughout the week tens of thousands of people have joined public rallies to show their support for the State Counselor.

Ma Khin Nyein Chan, who came from Hungary to attend the ICJ rally, said she was really touched by what Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told them at the meeting: “I don’t know … any of you individually, but I could feel your love for me.”

“When I heard that, I cried,” she said.

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