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SDIR Committee News Release

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Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
House of Commons / Chambre des communes
Sous-comité des droits internationaux de la personne du Comité permanent des affaires étrangères et du développement international

For immediate release



Ottawa, September 19, 2017 -

The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) has closely followed the plight of Myanmar’s one million stateless Rohingya Muslims, who continue to be denied citizenship, freedom of movement, access to the most basic services as well as the freedom to worship publicly.

In late August, the Myanmar military launched a disproportionate operation against the Rohingya following deadly attacks on their personnel by extremists. In what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has labeled “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” Myanmar authorities and Buddhist extremists have burned entire Rohingya villages and shot at fleeing civilians. These events were brought about by an enduring policy of cruelty towards the Rohingya. The Subcommittee echoes the observation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that the rise of violent extremism was both predictable and preventable in light of years of persecution at the hands of the state.

Since 25 August, around 3,000 Rohingya are estimated to have been killed, and almost 400,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar into Bangladesh. Reports indicate that tens of thousands of Rohingya remain stranded in northern Rakhine state without access to basic supplies such as food and water.

The Subcommittee and the entire international community were inspired by the successful movement for democracy in Myanmar, led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, after decades of harsh military rule. In bold contrast to her previous achievements, Aung San Suu Kyi has remained complicit in the violence against the Rohingya, as evidenced by her denial of and inaction on the issue. Her hard-won legacy as a champion for human rights, by consequence, has been irreparably damaged.

The Subcommittee reiterates its firm position that Myanmar’s military leadership under Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing must cease persecution of the Rohingya and work with Aung San Suu Kyi to end the gross violation of their human rights. This includes the granting of citizenship, inclusive access to basic services, protection of rights such as freedom of movement, enhanced economic and social development, and the protection of Rohingya cultural heritage. To do so, Myanmar’s leadership must actively take on the complex task of uprooting growing extreme nationalism, anti-Muslim sentiment and communal violence by addressing their causes head-on.

The Subcommittee encourages Bangladesh to continue to offer protection to Rohingya refugees, and notes that it is the responsibility of the state of Myanmar to protect the security of all people in Myanmar – including the Rohingya. Myanmar’s political and military leadership should know that the international community will no longer stand by as they continue this campaign of violence against the Rohingya, and they will be held accountable for their actions.


Anything less than dramatic action to bring about an immediate end to the atrocities being committed against the Rohingya is completely unacceptable. Aung San Suu Kyi’s inaction is a moral failure, and betrays the ideals she once stood for.

Michael Levitt, MP, Chair

It is time for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to show true leadership by ensuring the repeated cycles of violence against the Rohingya are put to an end. The total denial of rights faced by this minority group is morally abhorrent. Canada, together with all Western Nations providing aid to Myanmar, should demand these atrocities cease, and make it clear that assistance will be rescinded otherwise.

David Sweet, MP, Vice-Chair

There is no excuse for the pain and devastation suffered by the Rohingya people. Myanmar must cease persecution of the Rohingya and grant them full citizenship immediately.

Cheryl Hardcastle, MP, Vice-Chair

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For more information, please contact:
Elizabeth Kingston, Clerk of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
Tel: 613-995-9461