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Tories urge Trudeau to hold Myanmar responsible for Rohingya genocide

Newly arrived Rohingya wait for their turn to collect building material for their shelters distributed by aid agencies in Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh. From Sept. 13, 2017.

The Conservative opposition is calling on the government to use all political and diplomatic measures to hold those, including Myanmar’s government, responsible for the genocide of Rohingya people.

Conservative MP David Sweet issued a statement Thursday in response to Bob Rae’s final report on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Rae earlier this year as special envoy to the region.

“Although the ongoing mistreatment of the Rohingya dates back decades, Mr. Rae’s work confirms that the Myanmar authorities are escalating the violence, something that’s been confirmed by the independent NGOs,” said Sweet in the statement.

“It is time to finally take action. We call on the government to use all political and diplomatic tools available to them. The Liberals should make full use of the legislative powers we’ve given them to hold all those responsible, including within Myanmar’s civilian government, for the unacceptable persecution and genocide of the Rohingya people,” said Sweet.

Rae said in his report that the lesson of history is that “genocide is not an event like a bolt of lighting, it is a process, one that starts with hate speech and the politics of exclusion, then moves to legal discrimination, then the policies of removal and then finally to a sustained drive to physical extermination.”

The government and others often refer to the crisis as ethnic cleansing, because calling it a genocide would carry an international legal obligation to intervene, potentially with force.

In Rae’s report released April 3, he said no Myanmar politician, including the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is above a potential investigation by the International Criminal Court of possible war crimes.

Rae also suggested Canada consider granting refugee and resettlement status to Rohingya muslims. According to the United Nations, around 700,000 Rohingyas have fled to safety in Bangladesh.

The report does not, however, address how to deal with Aung San Suu Kyi who is a Nobel Prize winner and an honorary Canadian citizen. Suu Kyi has faced a lot of criticism for not speaking out against the ethnic cleansing being committed against the Rohingyas. At a news conference the day he released his report, Rae said he wishes she would act.

“Whoever is found responsible, whether in the civilian government or the military government, for what has happened should be held responsible. I don’t exclude anybody from that,” Rae said.

Sweet reiterated much of what Rae reported – that the crisis is severe, Rohingyas are being tortured and forced from their homes. He criticized the report, though, for having lots of “lofty language” but little on steps of action to pressure theBurmese Military and government to end their actions against the Rohingya.

“We clearly have seen and heard of the tragic suffering and injustice that the Rohingya people have endured for too long,” said Sweet.

(c) 2018 iPolitics

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