Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West.
I want to begin with the words of former senator and Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire:
The warning signs preceding genocide in this case are ever present. The Rohingya have often been referred to as “illegal Bengalis”, with many of Burma's Buddhists demanding that they 'go back to where they belong', be it in Bangladesh or elsewhere. Generally they are forbidden from owning land, from inter-marrying with Buddhists and from having more than two children.... the international community must take early preventive action now in order to reverse Burma’s current trend towards catastrophe and possibly genocide.
Mr. Dallaire wrote that on March 24, 2014. He rightly called for the restoration of full citizenship. He called for the immediate authorization and deployment of international police units to Rakhine and an education campaign to counter the racist propaganda.
I recently met with Ahmed Ullah, alongside a number of my colleagues. Mr. Ullah is a Rohingya refugee who was born in a refugee camp and came to Canada in 2009. In a recent interview, he noted that his mother receives calls from family members stating, “We might not see the next daylight or we may not survive the next hour.”
John Packer, a professor of law and human rights at the University of Ottawa, recently pointed to the unadulterated racism towards the Rohingya and wrote that now is the time to stand up on the side of human rights and fully inclusive democracies.
Just as others have noted, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the exodus a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
As Mr. Dallaire noted in his warning years ago, the state of Myanmar has persecuted the Rohingya for decades. It has denied their citizenship, history, and identity; placed restrictions on families, education, and mobility; and engaged in arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings, all with the cumulative intent of denying their participation in society, driving them out, and destroying them.
This decades' long campaign of cultural genocide has recently turned to genocide. Myanmar's military has raped and murdered Rohingya, burned villages of predominantly Rohingya ethnic minorities to the ground, and triggered a mass exodus. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, with over 400,000 refugees entering Bangladesh over the last few weeks alone. Two hundred ethnic Rohingya villages now stand empty.
As the chair of the Canada-Bangladesh Parliamentary Friendship Group, I extend my deep gratitude to Bangladesh for the assistance it has provided, especially in the face of the floods it has been experiencing, with two-thirds of the country underwater. Bangladesh has exhibited compassion. When we look at Canada's efforts to take in refugees in the last two years, taking in over 45,000 refugees last year and committed to taking in 40,000 this year, our effort pales in comparison to the efforts under way in accommodating Rohingya refugees on the Bangladesh border. Canada has contributed over $9 million in humanitarian aid to this cause, but we need to do more.
Before coming here tonight, I was cutting mushrooms. I was in my kitchen in my apartment with my wife and my 13-month old. My 13-month old walked up behind me and bit my leg. It hurt and I was not particularly happy at the time, but I have to say, in the context of this debate, in the context of all of the horrible news, it is also a reminder of how lucky I am to live in Canada.
Abdul Hamid, who is 12 years old, is one of thousands and thousands of stories. He saw his father shot in front of him. When his father did not die, the soldier slit his father's throat in front of him. He and his mother and four younger siblings then hid in the forest for days, and then walked for two days to reach the safety of Bangladesh.
I do not have the answers. Sanctions, aid, multilateral forces, I do not know. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of intervention in the name of human rights. The international community has a responsibility to protect ethnic minorities in the face of genocide and to assist the nation of Bangladesh in their efforts to help them.