Burma Task Force Testifies in Canadian Parliament: Urges Action on Rohingya Genocide

Over 480,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh during the last month alone and it is significant that most are women and children.

Burma Task Force Testifies in Canadian Parliament: Urges Action on Rohingya Genocide

Over 480,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh during the last month alone and it is significant that most are women and children.

On Wednesday September 27th, Director of Burma Task Force, Canada,  Ahmed Ramadan, updated the Canadian Parliament on Myanmar’s genocidal policies against the Rohingya minority. This was a follow up to his testimony at the Subcommittee on International Human Rights the previous week, urging lawmakers to use Canada’s influence to stop mass atrocities and displacement.

On September 16, at a rally organized by Burma Task Force, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told demonstrators the persecution of Rohingya “looks a lot like ethnic cleansing.” On September 18, Prime Minister Trudeau, wrote to Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi condemning her “silence in the face of the brutal oppression of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim people.”

However, while embracing bipartisan cooperation in crisis response, some lawmakers criticized the current government for not doing more. As Mr. Ramadan testified, “Firstly, while we appreciate the well-intended use of the term “ethnic cleansing” by Canadian officials it must be noted that it is a euphemism for “genocide.” The term holds no legal status in the international law.” Mr. Ramadan noted that a diverse range of leaders, from Nobel Prize winners to high government officials, refer to the situation as Genocide.

Some Canadian lawmakers agreed. MP Stephanie Kusic (Calgary Midnapore, CPC) stated, “It has been widely confirmed that what is going on right now in Myanmar is genocide. The French President, the Malaysian Prime Minister, the President of Nigeria, the President of Turkey, and the Bangladeshi foreign minister are all calling what is going on at present a Genocide.” She went on to ask if the almost 200 million Canadian dollars going to development assistance in Myanmar are supporting human rights for all and other Canadian values.

“Effective action is urgently needed,” commented Malik Mujahid, Chair of Burma Task Force. “The Canadian Government should recognize the scale of the crisis. Last week in Bangladesh I interviewed survivors of a horrifying massacre in the village of Tula To Li, and it is clear that the numbers of killed are far, far beyond Myanmar government estimates.” Over 480,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh during the last month alone and it is significant that most are women and children.

In its testimony to Parliament, Burma Task Force has urged a comprehensive response to the current crisis, including an increase of humanitarian aid to refugees and transport for logistical help. Moreover, in Northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, peacekeepers are needed to support safe zones for humanitarian access.

In Bangladesh, the government there must register all Rohingya as refugees instead of the current small percentage, which does not include earlier arrivals. No Rohingya Muslim can be safely sent back to Myanmar at this time.