question period — Foreign Affairs

Human Rights in Myanmar

February 17, 2021


[14:28]

Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate.

Senator Gold, on February 1 the Myanmar military seized power from its people, despite a democratically elected government. The military coup halted Myanmar’s fragile progress towards democracy, upending international efforts in stabilizing the region.

I will not elaborate on what happened less than four years ago when the world witnessed the mass exodus and genocide of the Rohingya people, whose future is still uncertain, and it is not difficult to predict what may happen if the ongoing military coup is not disrupted.

Senator Gold, besides condemning the violence against the demonstrators and civilians, what concrete actions will the government implement in order to curtail the escalating crimes against the people of Myanmar and the vulnerable Rohingya minority?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
[14:29]

Senator, thank you for your question and for highlighting this tragedy.

The House of Commons unanimously agreed in 2018 that the horrible crimes in Myanmar amounted to genocide and, as you’ve pointed out correctly, the Government of Canada has been a strong and persistent advocate for accountability in Myanmar since the onset of the current crisis.

With regard to concrete steps, the government remains committed to assisting people affected and has committed, over the course of the last number of years, many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for humanitarian assistance and working to continue to meet the specific needs of vulnerable people.

The government, furthermore, supports all reasonable efforts to find long-term solutions to refugee situations, including repatriation efforts.

[14:30]

Senator Gold, demonstrators have been risking their lives in the name of democracy for 12 days. Civilians and journalists are arbitrarily arrested, telecommunications are regularly blocked, flights and trains are halted and the general rise in crime and bloodshed is extremely concerning. The Canadian Myanmar diaspora is especially horrified and worried for their loved ones back home. Will the government work on an immediate strategy to stifle the rise of human rights violations in Myanmar before the world witnesses another genocide?

Senator Gold
[14:31]

The government is committed to working, along with its allies, to do what it can to address this ongoing and unacceptable situation. This government’s commitment to human rights, justice and the prevention of genocide — including its intervention at the International Court of Justice in the case of The Gambia v. Myanmar — remains unwavering.