On Tuesday, Apr 4, 2017, Ahmed Ramadan, the Outreach Coordinator for The Burma Task Force Canada was invited to speak at The Centre Block, the main building of the Canadian parliamentary complex on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario. A presentation was given to the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The topic that he was invited to speak on was the ongoing plight of the Rohingya, and to provide and update since the release of their report that was submitted to the House of Commons titled “Sentenced to a Slow Demise: The Plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Minority.”
Ahmed also requested Anwar Arkani, from the Rohingya Association of Canada be invited, to provide a Rohingya perspective. Ahmed made a brief presentation, thanking the Subcommittee for their invite and taking up the cause of the Rohingya. He also drew their attention to the UN Flash Report from February 3rd that reported on gang rapes, the murder of children, mass graves, killings, and village burning.
He pointed out that although the Canadian Government may be working behind the scenes, their voice has been non-existent on the international stage, lending no voice to the Rohingya. He also pointed out the problems with the Kofi Annan Commission, namely, no Rohingya representation, two members have made genocidal comments towards the Rohingya, and as Yanghee Lee mentions, their mandate is not all encompassing, thus, human rights violations won’t be addressed and perpetrators won’t be held accountable.
Ahmed also emphasized that the conflict is State Sanctioned terror against a minority and thus Myanmar/Burma should be treated in that light. He mentioned the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi has yet to visit the troubled areas, that many international figures have called into question the legitimacy of the democracy, and the situation has become worse for minorities and specifically the Rohingya under her rule.
Many of the points were brought up during the question and answer period, where members of the Subcommittee had a chance to ask for more detail. One important question that was asked was what Canada can do.
This invitation is a recognition of Burma Task Force’s efforts. It also shows that there are people within the Canadian Government that are willing to be champions of the Rohingya struggle and that Canada will have a bigger role to play in the near future, given its commitment to human rights and freedom.