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

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Volunteers sort through bottles and cans during Saturday's fundraiser for hospice. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley hospice holds drive-through bottle drive

Bike team is fundraising for the annual Cycle of Life tour on Vancouver Island

The Village of Cumberland is applying for a UBCM grant to help streamline development application processes. Black Press file photo
Cumberland looks to streamline development

“This looks like the best thing we’ve ever applied for.”

Security camera image of 7-Eleven robbery suspect. Photo supplied.
Late-night Courtenay robbery results in 500-plus days in jail

Heatley’s sentence also includes probation, DNA order, firearms ban

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

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

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read