The Myanmar military once kept her under house arrest for many years in order to keep her out of power
Aung San Suu Kyi's decision to go to The Hague has come as a surprise to all as she will personally represent her new democracy at the first proceedings in the International Court of Justice on Tuesday.
Suu Kyi has promised to "defend the national interest" of Myanmar while protecting the military that once kept her under house arrest for many years in order to keep her out of power.
Some believed that her appearance would only worsen her image in the eyes of foreign governments, and that she should not put her entire reputation — or what remains of it — on the line, for defending such serious charges in an international public court.
Others noted that this was a necessary move to further strengthen support at home, particularly from the military, as Suu Kyi prepares for the 2020 elections, reports the Quartz.
The Irrawaddy, a Myanmar-based English-language newspaper wrote, "As the saying goes, two lions share a cave," adding that the army relies on Suu Kyi to do the job of protecting the "indefensible" in The Hague.
Matthew Smith, the head of non-profit group Fortify Rights, which researches human rights violations in Myanmar, took the matter to Twitter on December 6, saying "#Myanmar's denials of #Rohingya #genocide will be center stage in The Hague next week. Suu Kyi's nauseating push for domestic support ahead of national elections is a part of this, but regardless the legal dispute is serious & will have major implications."
The france24 reports that the "Free Rohingya Coalition" has released a statement that says it was starting the "Boycott Myanmar Campaign" with 30 organisations in 10 countries.
It called on "corporations, foreign investors, professional and cultural organizations to sever their institutional ties with Myanmar."
The statement said the boycott was intended to "to bring to bear economic, cultural, diplomatic and political pressure on Myanmar's coalition government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the military."
The Quartz also reports that this decision of Suu Kyi's appearance is winning her the domestic support she is looking for, as many in Myanmar support the actions of the government against the Muslim minority and decry what they see as distorted and misleading media coverage in the Rohingya crisis in the west.
Some have signed up for tours that cost as much as $2,000 to show their support during the trial for Suu Kyi at The Hague.
But, why will the former champion of human rights and democracy as once presented by the West, and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, be defending her government on charges of genocide?
Part of the reason may be in the domestic politics of Myanmar. As Suu Kyi focuses on winning next November's general election, she may conclude that the lawsuit at the International Court of Justice will be to her political advantage, reports the Economist.
Mary Callahan, a historian at Washington University, suggests that she can "seize the mantle of protector of the nation from the opposition" – the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – by taking on Gambia personally.
The diplomat points out that in 2011, Suu Kyi had agreed that collaborating with the armed forces was the only way to achieve her long-term political goals and that since then she has always been very careful not to criticise them.
One analyst suggests that, in reality, she may have reached an agreement with the army: in exchange for protecting their soldiers at the ICJ, the generals would agree to constitutional reform.
Suu Kyi has long sought to amend the constitution, which prohibits her from becoming president and reserves three ministries and a quarter of parliamentary seats for military appointees. Many experts, however, consider such an agreement improbable between Suu Kyi and the military.
A report by Open Democracy throws in a contrast between Suu Kyi's writings and her actions. In her acclaimed "Letters from Burma," Aung San Suu Kyi (at that time under house arrest) describes how she tried to fix the leaking roof of her house, citing a Burmese proverb, "If the roof is not sound the whole house becomes vulnerable to leaks."
While some of her construction helpers had wanted to change the entire roof of her house, she said, "I held out firmly for reusing the old tiles and supplementing those that had been damaged beyond redemption with other ones…once they had been washed clean the tiles glowed a soft red and looked as good as new."
In the end, she thanked the women among the workers because they "play an essential role in our endeavours to repair the roof of our nation."
Maybe there's a moral to be taken from this story about what's going to happen in The Hague.
Aung San Suu Kyi is heading to the ICJ as part of her efforts to keep Myanmar's "house dry." But instead of simply "repairing the roof" and confronting the fact of genocide, she is likely to continue to "endure the rain" and keep "washing the tiles clean."