Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland has said that atrocities on Rohingyas must end and justice must be done.
She spoke at the inaugural session of the 45th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka on Saturday.
The Canadian foreign minister agreed with the view of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who described the torture against the Rohingya as a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing,” and that he “has strong suspicions that acts of genocide may have taken place in Rakhine State since August.”
Chrystia said: “As an international community we must pledge to hold the perpetrators of these crimes to account,” as the first non-member minister addressing the OIC’s CFM session.
She arrived in Dhaka last week along with Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar Bob Rae and visited Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Over 700,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh following an army crackdown in Rakhine State in Myanmar since August last year. With the fresh influx, the number of Rohingyas taking shelter in Bangladesh has exceeded one million.
The Canadian foreign minister said: “We must work to establish a clear pathway towards accountability for the atrocities and human rights violations committed in Rakhine state, and coordinate efforts to build lasting peace in Myanmar.
“We hope the OIC countries will continue to demonstrate clear leadership on this and we hope to work closely with you.”
Chrystia said her country has already sanctioned Myanmar’s Maj Gen Maung Maung Soe under Canada’s Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act for his role in the oppression, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity against the Rohingyas.
She also appreciated Bangladesh and the host communities for opening their arms to the hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas seeking refuge, and for the delivery of life-saving assistance.
Sharing her experience of visiting the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar on Friday, Chrystia said she heard of stories of families ripped apart, of husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, cousins, friends and neighbours who have not seen each other in years.
“Most chillingly of all, we heard harrowing accounts of the use of rape as a weapon. Women told us that their toilets were destroyed, forcing them to use outdoor latrines where they would be an easier target for their attackers,” she said.
Chrystia called on the UN Security Council “to systematically incorporate sexual violence as a specific designation criterion in UN sanctions regimes.”