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

A heavy snowfall in the Chilcotin overnight, as seen here at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake on Friday, Nov. 27, has resulted in several downed power lines and the closure of some of Highway 20. (Graham West photo)
Heavy snowfall, downed power lines, Highway 20 closed Bella Coola to Anahim Lake

A travel advisory is in effect between Tatla Lake and Anahim Lake

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Newly elected Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson participated in a virtual oath ceremony with the BC Liberal Caucus on Friday, Nov. 27. Here he poses for a photograph with Kate Ryan-Lloyd, clerk of the legislature. (Screen image taken of YouTube live stream)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA participates in BC Liberal Caucus virtual oath ceremony

First-time MLA Lorne Doerkson will represent the region

Snow continues to fall near Anahim Lake as shown here on the DriveBC webcam Friday, Nov. 27. (DriveBC image)
Snowfall warning for Chilcotin expected to last until noon Friday

Drive BC is warning of black ice between Tatla Lake and Alexis Creek

Patrons exercise at Re4rm Fitness prior to last week’s new, provincial COVID-19 regulations. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake fitness centres adapt amid new COVID-19 regulations

Gymnastics, dance studios, martial arts, yoga, pilates, strength and conditioning impacted

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
Two Fraser Valley churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

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 big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Most Read