United Nations judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) must act to stop continuing genocide of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, Gambia's justice minister said on Tuesday.
In an opening statement at the tribunal, also known as the World Court, the Gambia's Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou said: "All that the Gambia asks is that you tell Myanmar to stop these senseless killings.
"To stop these acts of barbarity and brutality that have shocked and continue to shock our collective conscience. To stop this genocide of its own people."
The case, the first international legal attempt to bring Myanmar to justice over alleged mass killings of the Rohingya minority in 2017, comes after the Gambia on November 11 filed an application at the ICJ, accusing Myanmar of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Gambia took the action on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
In a rare move, Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against Myanmar's military dictatorship, is defending her country in the UN's top court.
She is leading the Myanmar delegation in her capacity as foreign minister and is due to address the court on Wednesday, expected to repeat denials of genocide and argue that military operations in question were a legitimate response to attacks by Rohingya "militants".
After arriving in a motorcade at the ornate Peace Palace in The Hague, Aung San Suu Kyi ignored questions shouted out to her by waiting reporters. Wearing a traditional dress, she sat expressionless in the courtroom as the Gambian team detailed alleged atrocities in Myanmar.
The Gambia is requesting that provisional measures be taken to prevent "extrajudicial killings or physical abuse; rape or other forms of sexual violence; burning of homes or villages; destruction of lands and livestock, deprivation of food and other necessities of life, or any other deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Rohingya group in whole or in part."
Outside the court, dozens of Rohingya demonstrated to demand justice for victims, while in Yangon, the commercial capital of Myanmar, thousands of people rallied in support of Aung San Suu Kyi, waving national flags as they chanted: "To protect the country's dignity, stand with Mother Suu." _Al-Jazeera