Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland waits to greet Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives ways and means committee, in Ottawa, on Nov. 6, 2019. Canada is supporting the decision to pursue a genocide prosecution against the Myanmar government for supporting the systemic violence that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee their country. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says in a statement the move will advance accountability for the crime of genocide, which includes mass murder, systemic discrimination, hate speech and sexual and gender-based violence. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canada supports genocide case against Myanmar at International Criminal Court

The case targets systemic violence that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee their country

Canada is supporting a genocide prosecution of the Myanmar government for systemic violence that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee their country.

Gambia filed the genocide case Monday with the International Criminal Court in The Hague on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Co-operation, a group of 57 Muslim countries.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement the move will advance accountability for the crime of genocide, which includes mass murder, systemic discrimination, hate speech and sexual and gender-based violence.

The Canadian government will look for ways to support Gambia’s legal efforts, she added. To that end, she said the government will enlist the help of former Liberal interim leader and longtime politician Bob Rae, who also served as Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar.

“Canada will work with other like-minded countries to end impunity for those accused of committing the gravest crimes under international law,” Freeland said.

“Ensuring that the perpetrators of these atrocities are held to account is imperative to provide justice to the victims and survivors while building lasting peace and reconciliation in Myanmar.”

Rae, in his report on Myanmar released last year, urged Canada to play a leading role in any international prosecution of the perpetrators of violence in the South Asian country.

Rae also predicted legal challenges for the international community if it decided to pursue a prosecution against Myanmar’s leaders for crimes against humanity.

The main challenge would be to create a credible and independent tribunal that could hear the case, he said, noting that special tribunals were set up to prosecute war crimes in Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

In September 2018, the House of Commons unanimously supported a motion that said the crimes against the Rohingya were a genocide. The motion also reiterated a call for the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.

The motion coincided with a United Nations fact-finding mission that reported the Myanmar military systematically killed thousands of Rohingya civilians, burned hundreds of their villages and engaged in ethnic cleansing and mass gang rape. It called for top generals to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide.

A statement on Monday from Human Rights Watch on behalf of 10 international non-governmental organizations said the move by Gambia represented “the first judicial scrutiny of Myanmar’s campaign of murder, rape, arson, and other atrocities against Rohingya Muslims.”

It noted that Canada, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Turkey, and France “have asserted that Myanmar committed genocide against the Rohingya.”

In October 2018, Canada also stripped Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, of her honorary Canadian citizenship for her complicity in the atrocities. She had been renowned for her decades as a leader peacefully opposing her country’s military rulers.

Myanmar’s military launched attacks against the Rohingya in August 2017. Most fled to neighbouring Bangladesh and have created one of the world’s largest refugee camps.

READ MORE: Pressured over press rights, Myanmar frees Reuters reporters

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parksville council members share views on affordable housing

Divergent opinions on responsibility, priorities

Massive early-morning blaze destroys unoccupied Nanoose Bay home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire

Captain Dziadyk to end season with Oceanside Generals on high note

Qualicum Beach player is longest-serving player in team history

Petition underway to stop bylaw on homeless camping in Regional District of Nanaimo

‘Canadians are known for their meekness but this time we need to have a voice’

Qualicum Beach approves Pheasant Glen zoning amendment

Majority of residents who spoke at public hearing endorsed proposed amendment bylaw

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

UPDATE: Two missing scout leaders found near Sooke after swollen creek traps troop

Third leader and scouts located, prior to search for two leaders who’d gone for help

Most Read