Commit $600 Million of Humanitarian Aid to the Rohingya Crisis

Since, August 25th, 2017 over 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from ethnic persecution by Myanmar security forces. The atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces include mass killings, sexual violence, and widespread arson, amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Canada has tried to address the humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya in various ways.  The House of Commons has voted to declare the Rohingya crisis as genocide. In addition, Canada has also imposed sanctions on eight Myanmar nationals involved in military operations. The Senate has voted to strip Myanmar civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary Canadian citizenship; she is the first person to be stripped of an honorary Canadian citizenship. Canada must agitate within the UN to ensure that the UNSC refers the situation in Myanmar to the ICC or establishes an ad hoc tribunal to ensure that those responsible are held accountable

Overview

Since, August 25th, 2017 over 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from ethnic persecution by Myanmar security forces.[i] The atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces include mass killings, sexual violence, and widespread arson, amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.[ii]

Canada has tried to address the humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya in various ways.  The House of Commons has voted to declare the Rohingya crisis as a genocide.[iii] In addition, Canada has also imposed sanctions on eight Myanmar nationals involved in military operations.[iv] The Senate has voted to strip Myanmar civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary Canadian citizenship; she is the first person to be stripped of an honorary Canadian citizenship.[v]  Even as Canada takes many symbolic steps in addressing the Rohingya crisis, there is still a need to bring meaningful aid to the Rohingya.

Currently, Canada has pledged $300 million over three years in aid to the Rohingya, falling short off the $600 million over four years recommend by Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, Bob Rae.[vi]

Questions for Federal Candidates

  • Do you believe that the Rohingya crisis needs urgent international attention?
  • Do you believe Canada can be an international leader in addressing the Rohingya crisis?
  • Do you believe that Canada should do more to hold Myanmar accountable for the crimes it has committed against the Rohingya?

If elected:

  • Will you work within your caucus to strengthen Canada’s humanitarian commitment to the Rohingya people, committing to $600 million in aid over four years?
  • Will you work within your caucus to ensure Canadian leadership on the Rohingya file, possibly referring the situation to the International Criminal Court?

Supporting Points

  • Humanitarian Needs. Despite Canada’s commitment of $300, the Rohingya crisis is grossly underfunded.  The UN’s Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya refugee response is underfunded at 69% as of Feb. 28, 2019.[vii] The United States’ two-year pledge since 2017 was a total of $389 million.[viii] The EU Commission’s two-year pledge since 2017 was a total of $190 million.[ix] Canada has pledged $300 million over the next three years.[x]
  • UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM). Canada welcomed the UN independent international FFM on Myanmar.[xi] The report’s findings and conclusions provided evidence of crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar securities forces. The FFM found that the crimes themselves and the way they were perpetrated were found to have genocidal intent.[xii] The report concluded that rape and sexual violence were part of a deliberate strategy and tactic of war.[xiii] The report calls on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court, or to establish an ad hoc international criminal tribunal. The report also targets individuals for sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes against those responsible.[xiv]
  • International Legal Pursuit. Normally, the International Criminal Court (ICC) would be the appropriate venue to try those Myanmar authorities responsible for crimes against the Rohingya people. However, since Myanmar is not a state party to the ICC, the court cannot exercise its jurisdiction unless the UNSC refers the crimes to the ICC.[xv] Another option would be to have Bangladesh bring the case to the ICC, since Bangladesh is a state party to the ICC and some of Myanmar’s crimes occurred on Bangladeshi territory.[xvi] The ICC has opened a preliminary examination as of Sept. 18th[xvii] In addition, the UNSC could invoke the UN convention on Genocide by establishing an ad hoc tribunal to investigate and try crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya people.[xviii] Myanmar is a state party to the UN convention on Genocide.

Recommendations for Canada

  • Canada should take a leadership role in responding to the crisis by committing to the humanitarian aid recommendation of $600 million over four years.
  • Canada ought to support expanding sanctions to individuals responsible for atrocities against the Rohingya by freezing assets and placing travel bans on not just military leaders but civilian leaders as well; e.g., Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • Canada must agitate within the UN to ensure that the UNSC refers the situation in Myanmar to the ICC or establishes an ad hoc tribunal to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

 

 

[i] United Nations. Rohingya emergency. Retrieved from https://www.unhcr.org/rohingya-emergency.html

[ii] Myanmar: Crimes against humanity terrorize and drive Rohingya out. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/myanmar-new-evidence-of-systematic-campaign-to-terrorize-and-drive-rohingya-out/

[iii] Connolly, A. (2018, September 20). House of Commons unanimously votes to call Myanmar Rohingya killings a genocide. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/4470455/canada-declares-myanmar-rohingya-genocide/

[iv] Global Affairs Canada. (2018, June 25). Canada imposes further sanctions in response to ongoing crisis in Myanmar. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2018/06/canada-imposes-further-sanctions-in-response-to-ongoing-crisis-in-myanmar.html

[v] Harris, K. (2018, October 03). Aung San Suu Kyi officially stripped of honorary Canadian citizenship | CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/suu-kyi-honorary-canadian-citizenship-1.4847568

[vi] Federal government pledges $300-million in aid to Rohingya; figure falls short of Rae's request. (2018, May 23). Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-federal-government-pledges-300-million-in-aid-to-rohingya-figure/

[vii] Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis Joint Response Plan 2018 funding update as of 2019.02.28 - Bangladesh. Retrieved from https://reliefweb.int/report/bangladesh/rohingya-humanitarian-crisis-joint-response-plan-2018-funding-update-20190228

[viii] Brunnstrom, D. (2018, September 24). U.S. almost doubles aid for Rohingya in Bangladesh, Myanmar. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-un-usa/u-s-almost-doubles-aid-for-rohingya-in-bangladesh-myanmar-idUSKCN1M42B0

[ix] Rohingya crisis: Additional EU aid reaches Bangladesh. Retrieved from http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-6653_en.htm

[x] Canada pledges $300 million in aid to help Rohingya but stops short on resettlement. (2018, May 23). Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/05/23/canada-pledges-300-million-in-aid-to-help-rohingya-but-stops-short-on-resettlement.html

[xi] Global Affairs Canada. (2018, August 28). Canada welcomes United Nations summary report on independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2018/08/canada-welcomes-united-nations-summary-report-on-independent-international-fact-finding-mission-on-myanmar.html

[xii] Myanmar: UN Fact-Finding Mission releases its full account of massive violations by military in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. (2018, September 28). Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23575

[xiii] Myanmar: UN Fact-Finding Mission releases its full account of massive violations by military in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. (2018, September 28). Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23575

[xiv] Myanmar: UN Fact-Finding Mission releases its full account of massive violations by military in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. (2018, September 28). Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23575

[xv] Senate. (2019, February). 'An Ocean of Misery': The Rohingya refugee crisis. Retrieved from https://sencanada.ca/en/info-page/parl-42-1/ridr-rohingya/

[xvi] Decision on the "Prosecution's Request for a Ruling on Jurisdiction under Article 19(3) of the Statute". (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/record.aspx?docNo=ICC-RoC46(3)-01/18-37

[xvii] Senate. (2019, February). 'An Ocean of Misery': The Rohingya refugee crisis. Retrieved from https://sencanada.ca/en/info-page/parl-42-1/ridr-rohingya/

[xviii] Gerster, J. (2018, September 30). Rohingya genocide: Is Canada doing enough to help the targeted Muslim minority? Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/4496035/canada-myanmar-rohingya-genocide/

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