Canada’s lawmakers call Rohingya crisis a ‘genocide’
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Canada’s lawmakers call Rohingya crisis a ‘genocide’

CANADA’S parliament on Thursday unanimously voted to declare Burma’s (Myanmar’s) military actions against the minority Rohingya an act of genocide.

The western country’s lower house endorsed the findings of a UN fact-finding mission on Burma that found “crimes against humanity have been committed against the Rohingya” and that the acts took place under orders from military commanders, according to The Guardian.

Lawmakers in the House of Commons said the actions that unfolded in the Southeast Asian country “constitute genocide” and also called for the matter to be raised at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

They also urged the international community to investigate and prosecute Burma’s generals for “the crime of genocide”.

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“I want to underscore how tragic, how horrific the crimes against the Rohingya are,” Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland was quoted as saying.

“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.”

Earlier on Thursday, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Burma must ensure there is “no hiding place” for those responsible for crimes against its Rohingya minority if it is to avoid a lasting stain on the country’s reputation.

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This picture taken from Maungdaw district, Myanmar’s Rakhine state on April 25, 2018 shows Rohingya refugees gathering behind a barbed-wire fence in a temporary settlement setup in a “no man’s land” border zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Source: AFP/ Ye Aung Thu

Hunt told Reuters he pressed Burma’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on the importance of holding the armed forces accountable for any atrocities, adding that if that did not happen within the country other options should be considered, including referral to the ICC.

“If there isn’t accountability through domestic processes the international community will not let it rest at that,” said Hunt in an interview at the end of a two-day visit to the former British colony previously known as Burma.

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“We need to be absolutely clear that there can be no hiding place for anyone responsible for these kinds of atrocities.”

A fact-finding mission by the UN found evidence of ethnic cleansing and accused Burma’s military of genocide. The final report, released last week, documented patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses that included killing indiscriminately, gang-raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages.

The UN investigators called for Burma’s army general Min Aung Hlaing and five generals to be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity, among others.

The military has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has remained largely silent on the atrocities.

The Nobel laureate has received widespread criticism for being complicit in the military’s brutal crackdown.