Canada will seek access into a region of Myanmar where thousands of Rohingyas have been forced out, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Saturday, as she acknowledged for the first time publicly that the violence against the minority Muslim population appears to be ethnic cleansing.
“Based on the reports, this looks a lot like ethnic cleansing and that is not acceptable,” Freeland said at a rally in Toronto Saturday organized by the the Burma Task Force. “It is not acceptable to Canadians and I am very proud that Canadians are raising their voices here in Canada.”
The rally was one of two held Saturday attended by hundreds that called for an end to the violence that has forced nearly 400,000 Rohingya to flee since late August when Myanmar security forces began a series of what they have dubbed ‘clearance operations’ after Rohingya militants attacked police posts. Another rally was held on the steps of Ontario’s legislature at Queen’s Park.
Canada’s ambassador to Myanmar will seek access to the once-Muslim-majority state of Rakhine, said Freeland, which independent monitors have so far not been allowed to enter. Human Rights Watch, which earlier this month released satellite images showing roughly 700 burnt-out houses in a single Rohingya village, has urged the Myanmar government to allow independent monitors into the country, so far to no avail.
Meanwhile, thousands of Rohingya have been forced across the border into Bangladesh.
‘They have nothing’
Farid Ullah, who was among those at the Queen’s Park rally, fled to Bangladesh as an infant with his family and says most of his life — approximately 14 years — was spent in a refugee camp there.
He says he was among the first Rohingya refugees…