Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi will lead a delegation to the United Nations' top court to defend the country from accusations of genocide against the ethnic Rohingya, the president's office announced Thursday.
Suu Kyi, the country's state counselor, will defend Myanmar before the International Court of Justice in a criminal case submitted by Gambia.
"The state counselor, in her capacity as union minister for foreign affairs, will lead a team to The Hague, Netherlands, to defend the national interest of Myanmar at the ICJ," the post read.
Gambia submitted a 46-page application to the ICJ earlier this month, saying government actions in Myanmar have led to mass murder, rape and the destruction of Rakine state communities.
Public hearings are scheduled from Dec. 10-12.
Gambian Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou took on the case after reading in a U.N. report last year that security forces in Buddhist-majority Myanmar cracked down on the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, in 2017, killing thousands and leading to more than 700,000 fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.
Tambadou told The Washington Post that "it brought back memories of the Rwandan genocide."
U.N. investigators said last year that top generals in Myanmar should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Myanmar government has repeatedly referred to the crackdown on Rohingya as necessary to stop "terrorism," and says that it can use its own committees to investigate abuse allegations.
Sui Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for campaigning for democracy and has been criticized for failing to condemn the army crackdown.
The United Nations Human Right Council's independent international fact-finding mission found last year that Myanmar security forces "targeted and terrorized the entire Rohingya population," with "genocidal intent."
The report, based on 875 interviews, said "nearly 725,000 Rohingya had fled to Bangladesh" by mid-August of 2018.
An estimated 10,000 people died, some in arson attacks, and others by gunshot or "large bladed weapons," and some women and girls were gang raped before being killed, the report said.
The mission found that the military operations were a "disproportionate" response to a small number of Rohingya insurgents attacking police outposts a year earlier, some with improvised explosive devices, killing 12 security officers.
The country's government rejected the report with government spokesman Zaw Htay saying it was "false allegations by the U.N. agencies and other international agencies."
The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, set up in 2002 to handle genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and as of 2010, also crimes of aggression, called for an investigation in July into "alleged crimes against humanity" committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
The request focused on the "2017 wave of violence," including "deportation," "other inhumane acts" and "persecution."
The International Criminal Court's pre-trial chamber authorized a probe into the allegations last week.
"There exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and/or systematic acts of violence may have been committed that could qualify as crimes against humanity of deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population," the chamber said.
The United States announced sanctions in July against four senior Myanmar military officials for "gross human rights violations" against Rohingya people.