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

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

(File Photo)
Lights, camera, action: IFF Film Club launches monthly discussions

The club meets virtually every second Tuesday of the month to chat about indie films

Fernie Delivery is the valley’s first delivery company. (Photo Contributed)
Fernie’s first delivery service kicks off

Fernie Delivery gives residents the chance to get any local goods delivered to their doorstep

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
‘Horrible’: Number of positive tests in Elk Valley on the rise

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

(File Photo)
Fernie Heritage Library plans Family Literacy Day events

The Fernie Heritage Library is hosting a number of programs to get kids excited about reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Dr. Cori Lausen, bat specialist. Photo: Submitted
Kaslo biologist questions logging at unique West Kootenay bat site

Dr. Cori Lausen, a bat specialist, studies a population of bats above Beasley

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Robbie Campbell lost his livelihood when the pandemic shut down Shambhala Music Festival. Instead, he spent part of 2020 working on a children’s book called Tulip that is now available. Photo: Submitted
In a lousy year, a Kootenay man was saved by a pink T-rex

Robbie Campbell became a children’s author after the pandemic cost him his livelihood

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

Most Read