“I commend the Canadian government for taking leadership on this issue. We all have a responsibility to take action to stop the Rohingya genocide, and Canada is uniquely positioned to intervene and to support grassroots struggles.” ― Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (02 Sept. 2020) ― The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) applauds the move by Canada and the Netherlands to intervene in The Gambia v. Myanmar case at the International Court of Justice.
The Rohingya genocide is still happening
The Myanmar government and security forces have engaged in systematic discrimination and violence against the Rohingya, causing hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. Background on the genocide can be found in previous NUPGE material.
The Gambia filed a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 2019, alleging that the atrocities committed against the Rohingya constitute genocide. In an initial ruling in January, the ICJ ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect its Rohingya population, as NUPGE reported on at the time.
NUPGE has been monitoring the situation in Myanmar and actively engaging in solidarity efforts with the Rohingya. NUPGE's Advisory Committee on Women's Issues (ACWI) has been working to raise awareness about the atrocities committed against Rohingya women and to support those in refugee camps.
Canada recognizes obligation to intervene
As Rohingya and Canadians rights advocates argued in iPolitics last week, Canada has a responsibility to speak out in the international sphere and to support the people of Myanmar in their fight for human rights and democracy.
In the joint announcement regarding the ICJ case, Canadian and Dutch officials recognized this responsibility:
“The Genocide Convention embodies the solemn pledge to prevent the crime of genocide and hold those responsible to account. In bringing this application to the ICJ, The Gambia took a laudable step towards ending impunity for those committing atrocities in Myanmar and upholding this pledge. Canada and the Netherlands consider it our obligation to support these efforts which are of concern to all of humanity.”
“I commend the Canadian government for taking leadership on this issue,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. “We all have a responsibility to take action to stop the Rohingya genocide, and Canada is uniquely positioned to intervene and to support grassroots struggles.”
Canada must continue its support
This is not the first time Canada has spoken out. In 2018, Parliament recognized the situation facing the Rohingya as a genocide and undertook a 3-year strategy to address the crisis. As the Rohingya and Canadian rights advocates have urged, Canada must commit to renewing these efforts and to supporting the Rohingya's needs and movements on the ground.
As a country that prides itself on its commitment to human rights and democracy, and with a feminist foreign policy agenda, Canada is well-positioned to continue taking a leadership role.
NUPGE hopes that Canada’s intervention in the ICJ case represents the first step.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE