19:04, September 20 63 0 theguardian.com

2018-09-20 19:04:04
Canada accuses Myanmar of genocide against Rohingya

Canadian lawmakers have unanimously voted to declare Myanmar’s military actions against the Rohingya people a genocide.

The House of Commons endorsed the findings of a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar that found “crimes against humanity have been committed against the Rohingya” and that these acts were sanctioned by top Myanmar military commanders.

Canadian lawmakers said they “recognise that these crimes against the Rohingya constitute genocide” and urged the UN security council to refer the case to the international criminal court, while also calling for Myanmar’s generals to be investigated and prosecuted “for the crime of genocide”.

“I want to underscore how tragic, how horrific the crimes against the Rohingya are,” said Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland. “We are leading an international effort for justice and accountability for the Rohingya.

“Today’s unanimous motion is a very important step in that effort.”

A military campaign drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh where they now live in refugee camps. Many have given accounts of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and arson.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in 2017 to repatriate the Muslim minority but that process has stalled as the Rohingya fear returning to Rakhine without their safety and rights guaranteed.

Separately the UN secretary general has called for Myanmar’s government to pardon two Reuters journalists who were sentenced to seven years in jail after they reported on massacres in Rakhine state.

Antonio Guterres said it was “not acceptable” for Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, to be jailed “for what they were doing” as journalists in Myanmar. “It is my deep belief that that should not happen, and I hope that the government will be able to provide a pardon to release them as quickly as possible.”

The Myanmar leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has said the two journalists were not convicted because of their work but because they broke the law. “The court has decided that they had broken the Official Secrets Act,” she said.

The Reuters reporters denied the charges, insisting they were set up while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din in September 2017. The case has sparked an international outcry and is seen as an attempt to muzzle reporting on the crackdown by Myanmar’s military on the Rohingya.

The UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has said the jailing of the pair “sends a message to all journalists in Myanmar that they cannot operate fearlessly, but must rather make a choice to either self-censor or risk prosecution”.

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