Canada deeply concerned over the plight of Rohingya Muslims


OTAWA, Sep 09 (TNS): Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday has expressed deep concern concerned about the violence against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar

Referring his one on one meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi here in June this year Mr Trudeau has said that he had raised the plight of the Rohingya.

“The situation in Myanmar is extremely preoccupying to us, to Canadians,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters at the Liberal caucus meeting in Kelowna, B.C. “When Aung San Suu Kyi was in Ottawa, I expressed our deep concern for the situation the Rohingya were in then. We continue to put pressure on the Myanmar government and all authorities to take concrete action to de-escalate this terrible conflict and to help those who are fleeing.”

On the other hand Canadian foreign minister Kristina Freeland has said that denying Rohingya’s rightful place in Myanmar only weakens the democratic vision Aung San Suu Kyi .

“The Government of Canada urges the authorities in Myanmar to work together and take measures to protect all civilians from ongoing violence.” She added

The current outbreak of violence began last month, after Rohingya insurgents attacked dozens of police posts and an army base in Rakhine. Myanmar’s military responded by killing at least 400 people, triggering a massive exodus of Rohingya villagers. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that there is a risk of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

Ms. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is facing international criticism over her failure to condemn the violence that has forced 170,000 Rohingya to flee from the state of Rakhine to Bangladesh over the past two weeks. They have long complained of persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they are seen as illegal migrants.

Mr. Trudeau has come under pressure to rescind Ms. Suu Kyi’s honorary citizenship, which was bestowed upon her by the former Conservative government for her “long struggle for freedom and democracy in her country.”

An online petition calling on the government to revoke her honorary citizenship has garnered more than 7,000 signatures as of Thursday evening. Fareed Khan, a government relations and communications consultant in Gatineau, launched the petition on Monday after years of following the plight of the Rohingya people.

Garnett Genuis, the Conservative deputy critic for foreign affairs, said Mr. Trudeau has reacted too slowly to the Rohingya crisis.

“The first step is for the Prime Minister to pick up the phone and have this conversation in an ongoing way with her [Ms. Suu Kyi] and to really clearly express the Canadian perspective,” Mr. Genuis said.

It’s not clear how Canada would go about revoking honorary citizenship if it wished to do so. The government did not respond to The Globe and Mail’s query about this.

Some critics, including former Liberal ministers Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock, have also called for Ms. Suu Kyi’s Nobel Prize to be revoked. Fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate and honorary Canadian citizen Malala Yousafzai has also criticized Ms. Suu Kyi for her silence on the treatment of the Rohingya.

Canadian premier while reacting to the critics has said that although Canadian govt has serious concerns over the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims with Aung San Suu Kyi in the helm of affairs but he would not say whether Canada will revoke her honorary Canadian citizenship amidst mounting international criticism against the de facto leader of the Southeast Asian country.