Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Hold Burma to Account for Its Bloody Treatment of the Rohingya

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Hold Burma to Account for Its Bloody Treatment of the Rohingya

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Hold Burma to account for its bloody treatment of the Rohingya


An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Nov. 26:

At first glance an agreement announced last week to permit hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to return to their homes in Burma from a squalid refugee camp in Bangladesh sounds promising.

After all, about 620,000 Rohingya have been living in unspeakable conditions in a camp in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar since they began fleeing Burma, also known as Myanmar, on Aug. 25.

That's when the Burmese army began what it euphemistically called "clearance operations," following an attack on police posts by a group of Rohingya insurgents.

What those operations actually amounted to, according to human rights organizations, were attacks on the minority Muslim Rohingya, including systematic rapes, murders and the burnings of their homes and villages.

Hence, the concerns of human rights organizations and countries such as Canada about the agreement. As it stands now, the details of the deal are as unclear as its intentions.

Human rights groups worry that the agreement might simply be camouflage to hide Burma's true intention: forcing the Rohingya back under heaven-knows-what horrific conditions to turn world attention away from their plight and the shameful role of the military leadership in it.

They should not be allowed to get away with it. Canada must consider working with other countries on imposing sanctions that are stiff enough to force Burma to stop its bloody ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and allow them to return home and live there safely.

Sensibly, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told the Star's editorial board on Friday that she is considering just that: "targeted sanctions" against Burma's leaders, in addition to the arms embargo Canada already has in place.

"It is ethnic cleansing," she said of the Burmese actions against the Rohingya. "These are bloody actions." And Canada, she says, believes in "international accountability."

What that accountability would look like is this: The Burmese leadership must be held accountable for crimes against humanity, the Rohingya must be allowed to safely return home, and when they get there they must have a decent life. …

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