Canada’s lawmakers voted unanimously on Thursday to strip Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, of honorary citizenship. The motion was an act of solidarity with the persecuted Rohingya minority in her country, a group she has failed to protect amid what the U.N. has declared is a genocide and the International Criminal Court has ruled is a crime against humanity.
She is one of only six people granted honorary citizenship by Canada.
Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her work in bringing democracy to Myanmar, and endured a long period of house arrest, and was regarded by millions for that as a hero, yet has failed completely to halt the alleged Rohingya genocide by the military. Suu Kyi has not responded to international pressure to condemn the brutal crackdown, telling the BBC last year that “ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening.”
A United Nations report last month said military leaders in Myanmar must be investigated for genocide against the Rohingyas — 700,000 of whom have also fled the country in the past year. Canada’s House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion earlier this month to recognize crimes against the Rohingya as an act of genocide.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged these gestures would not end the plight of the Muslim minority Rohingya.
The government still has to deal with the mechanics of how to remove the honorary citizenship, via a joint resolution of both houses of Parliament.
The Rohinyga crisis was pivotal discussion point during the Women in the World Canada Summit held in Toronto earlier this month, where Canadian doctor Fozia Alvi appeared. In an interview with Tina Brown, Alvi described the devastating plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya refugee, a plight she has witnessed firsthand while traveling to Bangladesh as a volunteer providing medical treatment to Rohingya refugees. She also singled out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for not taking a leadership position in addressing the crisis and called on the entire Canadian government to be more proactive in its approach to dealing with crisis. She called on Trudeau to “step up” and “declare it what it is — a genocide.” Watch the full discussion below.
Read the full story at the BBC.