Myanmar leader’s testimony on Rohingya out of step with reality, Bob Rae says

Bob Rae says Suu Kyi’s testimony on Rohingya doesn’t reflect reality
WATCH ABOVE: Bob Rae says Suu Kyi's testimony on Rohingya doesn't reflect reality

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s testimony on the Rohingya crisis wasn’t “close at all” to the reality on the ground, says Bob Rae.

“There’s just a sense of unreality about the presentation today that I think pervades the NGO community…the Rohingya community, the people who really know,” he said.

Suu Kyi denied Wednesday at the International Court of Justice allegations that Myanmar was guilty of genocide against the Muslim group.

READ MORE: Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi claims Rohingya genocide accusation is ‘misleading’

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar after the military launched a crackdown in 2017. United Nations investigators have said 10,000 people may have been killed.

While Suu Kyi conceded that disproportionate military force may have been used and civilians killed, she said the acts did not constitute genocide. And she argued Myanmar was taking steps to punish soldiers responsible for what it has previously said were isolated cases of wrongdoing.

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Myanmar leader departs for genocide hearings
Myanmar leader departs for genocide hearings

“Surely, under the circumstances, genocidal intent cannot be the only hypothesis,” she told the panel of 17 judges. “Can there be genocidal intent on the part of a state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers that are accused of wrongdoing?”

Rae, a former Liberal MP and NDP premier of Ontario, was appointed Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar in late 2017.

He was sent to the Hague this week to watch the proceedings as well as meet with other governments, he said.

“It’s fair to say a great many people — I’d have to say me included — have been profoundly disappointed by [Suu Kyi’s] response to the crisis and by the response of whole government of Myanmar,” said Rae.

READ MORE: Canada ‘welcomes’ move by Gambia to file genocide case against Myanmar at UN court

“We just don’t think what that they’re doing and saying in any way meets the severity of the situation, meets the level of human suffering that is involved in what’s happening, and is going to provide the kind of leadership that’s going to make a difference to actually finding some solutions to this terrible situation,” he said.

The Rohingya crisis was brought to the court following a complaint from Gambia on behalf of a group representing Muslim-majority countries.

UN chief urges Myanmar to take responsibility and address root cause of Rohingya crisis
UN chief urges Myanmar to take responsibility and address root cause of Rohingya crisis

Last month, then-foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland said she “welcomed ” the country’s request to the International Court to start proceedings.

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“This move will help advance accountability for the genocide, which includes acts of mass murder, systemic discrimination, hate speech and sexual and gender-based violence against the Rohingya, including violence that took place in August 2017,” she said in a statement.

Raising awareness of the international human rights of the Rohingya
Raising awareness of the international human rights of the Rohingya

Suu Kyi, a former human rights icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was stripped of her honorary Canadian citizenship last year following reports of atrocities against the Rohingya.

The Rohingya are from Rakhine state in Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority country. The violence came after decades of hardship and discrimination, Rae explained.

“There are a great many of observers who feel that the warning signs of genocide had been there for a quite long time, and there was a very real determination to simply get rid of the Rohingya,” Rae said.

— With files from Bryan Mullan, the Associated Press and Reuters