The international community must pledge to hold the perpetrators of the crimes committed against the persecuted Rohingya minority in Myanmar, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said yesterday.
“The atrocities must end. Justice must be done. And it depends on us,” she said while addressing the inauguration of the 45th session of the Council of Foreign
Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the city.
Speaking as the special guest, she said, “We must work to establish a clear pathway towards accountability for the atrocities and human rights violations committed in the Rakhine state, and coordinate efforts to build lasting peace in Myanmar.”
She hoped that the OIC countries will continue to demonstrate clear leadership in this regard.
After the inauguration, the Canadian FM called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and said that her country wanted an early solution to the crisis and that Canada would remain beside Bangladesh over the Rohingya issue.
She said the Canadian government is “seized with” the plight of the Rohingyas.
Canadian President Justin Trudeau has invited Hasina to the G7 summit in Quebec this June to raise the international profile of the issue, The Globe and Mail reports quoting Freeland who, on Friday, visited a Rohingya camp.
Freeland also pointed to her arrival in Bangladesh this week as a sign of her “very strong commitment to strong Canadian action.”
In her written speech at the inaugural session, Freeland narrated the historic role of the Canada government and the culture and heritage of the Muslim community in Canada and said, “Friends of the Muslim faith, our government and our country stands with you. That brings me to the plight of the Rohingya.”
She also narrated a story she heard during her visit to the Rohingya camps in Kutupalong on Friday. “We heard the story of a child who had been killed that very day in a landslide that left two other children gravely injured. This tragic event highlights the importance of efforts to accommodate the most vulnerable, who face grave and immediate danger from landslides and flooding during the monsoon season,” she said.
Urging Muslim countries, she said, “It is imperative that you…take concrete action. Your countries can band together. You can be at the forefront of saying 'those who incite hate, those who persecute minorities and fan the flames of discrimination – those who commit crimes against humanity – will be held to account within the rule of law.'”
She said that Canada's Special Envoy to Myanmar, Bob Rae, has engaged in extensive research, travel and meetings with key interlocutors in the last six months to assess the violent events of last August.
“We are currently assessing the recommendations Mr Rae has made in the report he produced, and will soon outline the further measures Canada intends to take to help meet the needs of the Rohingya and those working to assist them.”
Reminding the world about the consequences if the global community does not stand beside the persecuted nations, Freeland said, “In the first half of the 20th century we allowed hatred and anti- Semitism to fester in Europe, which led to the Holocaust. In Africa, 24 years ago, this evil produced the Rwandan genocide.”
She said her country would be with the Muslim countries' in their initiative on the Rohingya issue.
Referring to the research work of famous political philosopher Hannah Arendt that the depravation of citizenship should be classified as a crime against humanity, the foreign minister said that is exactly what happened to the Rohingyas.
“Muslims, including Rohingya Muslims, were once well-integrated into the social fabric of Myanmar.”
Freeland called on the Security Council to systematically incorporate sexual violence as a specific designation criterion in UN sanctions regimes.
“Although the exodus of the Rohingya has slowed, many are still being forced to flee every day,” she said.
CHRYSTIA CALLS ON PM
After the inaugural programme, the Canadian FM called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina saying Canada is ready to help Bangladesh with the Rohingya issue, reports UNB.
Canada has already contributed $45.9 million since the beginning of 2017. The United Nations says it needs $951 million this year alone to maintain food, shelter and medical services for the refugees as of April 30. Only 16 percent of that had been received, a report of The Globe and Mail says.
During talks with Freeland, Hasina said the government is worried about the Rohingyas in the coming monsoon when cyclones and floods are very common. "We want peace. We want the resolution of the crisis in a peaceful manner through dialogue."
She said Bangladesh has already talked to the neighbouring countries of Myanmar, including China, India, Thailand and Laos, over the issue and they also want the refugees living in Bangladesh to go back to their own country.
The PM said Bangladesh is in talks with Myanmar and an agreement has been inked over the issue.
"But in reality, they (Myanmar) are not acting accordingly," she added.
Hasina also mentioned that the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission should be implemented.
She said local Bangladeshis are suffering a lot due to the influx of the refugees who are staying on arable land. "As a result, the locals cannot cultivate their own land... we've to give them relief in addition to sheltering."
The PM also raised the issue of extradition of Bangabandhu's killer living in Canada. To which, Chrystia Freeland said she will convey the message to the Canadian PM.