Statement on Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar, and Rohingya humanitarian crisis

October 23, 2017
(Ottawa) – Statement on the appointment of Bob Rae as special envoy to Myanmar:

“I congratulate Bob Rae on this special appointment and commend the government for taking further steps to intervene in an urgent humanitarian crisis,” said Elizabeth May.

“The Rohingya have been the target of a vicious ethnic cleansing since the end of August. As of this week, it is estimated that over 600,000 have fled to Bangladesh, where food supplies, clean water, sanitation, and shelter remain critical.

“I know that many Canadians have grown disillusioned with Aung San Suu Kyi and are calling on the government to rescind her honorary citizenship. I, too, am incredibly disillusioned by Suu Kyi, internationally renowned for her non-violent resistance to an oppressive military junta that held her captive for decades. Her moral cowardice in failing to stand up for the Rohingya should be condemned.

“However, Suu Kyi holds no legitimate authority in Myanmar, a country that constitutionally prohibits her presidency. A singular focus on a figurehead distracts from the real, destructive, and virtually unchecked powers of Myanmar’s military, led by Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing. Canada must call for full and immediate citizenship for the Rohingya – the largest group of stateless people in the world.

“We also need more effective action by the UN Security Council, a global arms embargo, a visa ban on members of the Myanmar military, sanctions if there is no change in the current situation, increased aid to the refugee camps in Bangladesh, and a streamlined effort to bring Rohingya refugees to Canada. We should be urging Prime Minister Trudeau to remind Suu Kyi of her special relationship with Canada and ask for a chance to meet to discuss a resolution.

“Myanmar’s is a fledgling democracy. The international community must encourage it to take decisive action along this path, respecting the dignity of all people. I trust that Bob Rae will play a key role in Canada’s efforts,” Ms. May said.