Assisting with sexual and gender-based violence issues . . .
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, and his Dutch counterpart have announced the two countries plan to intervene at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case alleging genocide against the Myanmar government in its actions toward the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Minister Champagne indicated that Canada and the Netherlands would assist The Gambia, which brought the case to the ICJ, with “complex legal issues,” especially those related to sexual and gender-based violence. Minister Champagne’s announcement is the latest in Canada’s ongoing involvement in the Rohingya issue, including the House of Commons’ unanimous 2018 motion to declare the Rohingya crisis a genocide, sanctions on senior Myanmar military officials, and Special Envoy Bob Rae’s visits and 2018 report.
No signs of improvement . . .
The ICJ’s preliminary ruling in January called for an end to violence and for Myanmar to report on its compliance. However, the country’s report to the ICJ in May has been widely criticized, including by former UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee, who charged that Myanmar has done little to abide by the ruling. Internet shutdowns, restrictions on humanitarian aid, and a partial COVID-19 lockdown on the entire state of Rakhine have added to the plight of Rohingya still living in Myanmar. The COVID-19 threat and ongoing telecommunications restrictions have worsened the situation for those living in refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.
Uncertainty as Myanmar’s election approaches . . .
The Rohingya crisis has also been a source of controversy in the lead-up to Myanmar’s November 8 general election. Proposals by election officials to postpone the election in Rakhine have raised concerns about further disenfranchising marginalized ethnic groups. Despite the ruling National League of Democracy’s fielding its first Muslim candidate, disqualifications of many Rohingya and other Muslim candidates have troubled opposition politicians and observers. Amid these concerns, groups of Myanmar citizens, including garment workers and ethnic minorities, are organizing grassroots political campaigns in opposition to the government, while others are proposing an election boycott. In this fluid situation, ongoing pre-election controversy is all but certain.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Will COVID-19 cause the world – and Canada – to forget about the Rohingya
- The Conversation: Myanmar’s election, the Rohingya crisis and the road to democracy
- Frontier Myanmar: ‘Voting won’t change anything’, say Myanmar’s no-voters