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Canada wants systematic gathering of evidence for justice for Rohingyas

  • Published at 11:08 pm July 9th, 2018
File photo of Canadian Prime Minister's Special Envoy to Myanmar Bob Rae The Canadian Press

Special Envoy Bob Rae says the Rohingya crisis is too much for Bangladesh to deal with the burden alone

Canadian Prime Minister's Special Envoy to Myanmar Bob Rae on Monday laid emphasis on gathering information of atrocities against Rohingyas in a very systemic way to hold perpetrators accountable and find a political solution to the Rohingya crisis.

"There are steps that need to be taken. We need to gather evidence, and evidence gathering has to be systematic," he said in an interview with a group of journalists.

Rae came up with the remarks while talking about the issue of accountability for potential "crimes against humanity," including crimes of forcible deportation of the Rohingyas which is now considered by the International Criminal Court.

Responding to a question, he said the important thing was that the international community needed to stress that Bangladesh "cannot be left to feel that they are alone in dealing with the challenge."

He said this was too much for a country to deal with the burden alone. "It's too big a problem. We need to have assistance. Canada has increased the level of assistance. Other countries need to do the same. We need to work hard to make that happen."

Talking about greater economic sanctions on Myanmar, the envoy said when it came to the economic sanctions there were several countries – China and Russia and many of the neighbours – which were not prepared to do that.

He, however, said that targeted sanctions carried out by some countries were very successful.

Rae said they would have to 'work hard' to find the legal means by which people responsible for the atrocities against the Rohingyas could be held accountable.

"That's not easy but I do hope it's doable. We've to find the mechanism to do that with other countries and agencies."

He admitted that it was difficult to ensure education, livelihoods and work opportunities for the Rohingyas while they were in Bangladesh.

Stating that Rakhine was the Rohingyas’ home, Rae said: "It is in the interest of Myanmar to create a climate of peace and a climate of stability because that stability is required for prosperity."

He said he disagreed with the notion that recognition of the Rohingyas would delay their repatriation. "They won't be able to go back if conditions are not safe and secure. We can't morally and legally send people back to a condition that is not safe."

He said he does not think it was an issue for Bangladesh only but for the region and the world, and the international community just cannot leave it up to Bangladesh to carry this burden.

"It has been a critical issue for many decades. This is a not a new crisis. This is a continuation of the crisis. This is a challenge that has not been resolved inside Myanmar," he said.

The envoy, however, said it was going to take lots of time and efforts to resolve this crisis. "It won't be resolved overnight and quickly."

"We've to recognize that this crisis involves international laws and human rights issues. It's a matter of heart and mind. We need to think what more must be and can be done," he said.

Earlier, Rae had said that it would be 'unconscionable' for the UN member states to sanction a repatriation that was forced or did not include basic protections of human security and rights.

Since his appointment as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s special envoy to Myanmar on October 23, Rae has travelled to Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, and the UN in New York, and held numerous discussions with officials, leaders and NGOs and groups and individuals with an interest in the region.