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e-3289 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by Dah Law Eh Soe from Kitchener, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • The Burma Army deposed a democratically-elected government in a coup on February 1, 2021, disregarding the democratic rights of the people of Burma (Myanmar);
  • As of March 17, 2021, the junta has arbitrarily arrested more than 2,000 people and killed more than 200 unarmed civilians;
  • Burma Army attacks on civilians continue to escalate in remote ethnic areas across the country, displacing more villagers from their land; and
  • Ethnic Armed Organizations have suspended all peace negotiations with the illegitimate coup government.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to:
1. Suspend all high-level political contact with Burma and do not recognize the junta State Administration Council (SAC) as the legitimate government;
2. Impose and enforce sanctions on all military-affiliated companies and entities, as recommended by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar and Justice for Myanmar campaign;
3. Engage with international partners to seek a global arms embargo on Burma;
4. Suspend all financial assistance and loans to central government channels, including funding to the peace process through the Joint Peace Fund (JPF) and redirect this aid directly to civil society;
5. Support all efforts to empower a democratic federal government in Burma which recognizes the legitimate voices and concerns of all the various territories and nationalities contained therein;
6. Continue and expand cross-border humanitarian assistance to support ethnic civil society and internally displaced persons, as well as Thai-based refugee camps; and
7. Renew Canada’s multi-year financial commitment to support the Rohingya that is set to expire at the end of March 2021.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Canada unequivocally condemns the Myanmar military’s seizure of power, the overthrow of the democratically-elected civilian government, and the detention of politicians, civil society leaders, journalists, peaceful protestors and human rights defenders. Canada further condemns the use of force by Myanmar security forces on peaceful protestors, as well as the deliberate efforts to suppress dissent through disruption of communications, acts of intimidation, and the introduction of new and unacceptable laws. These actions constitute a blatant and unacceptable disregard for the democratic process, hard-fought civil and political rights, and the will of the people of Myanmar. Canada rejects claims made by coup leadership of large-scale election fraud in the 2020 general elections, as they have no basis in fact, and have been refuted by international, diplomatic and domestic elections observers.

Canada has made its position clear both bilaterally and in conjunction with its international partners. On February 1, 2021, Canada issued a Ministerial statement calling for the immediate release of those detained and the restoration of the democratically-elected civilian government. These demands were reiterated in a subsequent G7 Foreign Ministers statement issued on February 3, 2021. On February 23, 2021, Canada joined a second G7 statement condemning the unacceptable attacks perpetrated by Myanmar security forces against peaceful demonstrators, and calling for restraint and full humanitarian access. Canada has also registered its condemnation in an intervention at a UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Myanmar, an opening statement at World Trade Organization’s Trade Policy Review of Myanmar, an intervention at the UN General Assembly and a joint Canada-UK statement at the International Labour Organization Governing Body meeting. In response to the deplorable violence committed by the Myanmar military on the country’s Armed Forces Day, Canada released a Ministerial Statement, and joined a Chief of Defence Statement with Australia, Greece Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. On May 5, 2021, Canada joined a G7 Foreign and Development Ministers Communiqué condemning the coup, calling for the restoration of democracy and expressing readiness to take additional measures should the military refuse to reverse course.

Officials at Global Affairs Canada also briefed the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) on March 24, 2021 on the situation in Myanmar in the wake of the military coup, and, on April 15, 2021, the FAAE met for a second time to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on displaced persons from Myanmar.

On February 18, 2021, Canada announced targeted sanctions against the military leaders of the coup, including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, his Deputy Soe Win, and 7 others. These sanctions were followed by a subsequent announcement on May 17, 2021, against 16 Myanmar military individuals and 10 entities, developed and imposed in coordination with the United Kingdom and the United States. Importantly, listings in response to the military coup are in addition to a robust sanctions regime under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) that has been in place since 2007, and is the most comprehensive among Canada’s likeminded allies. Currently, there are 54 Myanmar entities and 70 individuals listed under SEMA. These sanctions encompass several measures, including:

  • a freeze on assets in Canada of any designated Myanmar nationals connected with the Myanmar State, as well as prohibitions on several categories of transactions, services and dealings involving property of designated persons, wherever situated; and
  • an arms embargo, including prohibitions on exporting and importing arms and related material to and from Myanmar, on communicating technical data related to military activities or arms and related material, and on financial services related to military activities or arms and related material.

Canada continues to work in close coordination with its international partners in pursuit of a range of additional measures to bring pressure to bear on the military junta. These measures include advocating for the adoption of international arms embargos on Myanmar, efforts to target the financial foundations of the Tatmadaw and constrict its grip on information in Myanmar, and continued support to pro-democracy and human rights forces on the ground.

Canada has also recently allocated $288 million to implement its new strategy to respond to the Rohingya crisis and the situation in Myanmar. Canada will continue to work with international partners to ensure that vulnerable and conflict-afflicted populations in Myanmar, including the Rohingya, live in safety and with dignity. Canada has reviewed its international assistance to Myanmar, and does not and will not provide direct funding to the Tatmadaw regime. Canada will, however, continue to support poverty alleviation among vulnerable and conflict-affected populations, particularly women and ethnic groups, through civil society organizations. As the prospects for sustainable and voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar are further diminished by the coup, Canada continues to work with international partners to mobilize support for the Rohingya people. We continue to help meet the immediate and longer-term needs of Rohingya refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh, through programming on health, critical protection services, learning, livelihood opportunities, environmental rehabilitation, and social cohesion.

Canada continues to provide development assistance for vulnerable populations in Myanmar, particularly women and ethnic minority groups, working mainly through support to civil society organizations, champions of democratization, and human rights defenders.

The military coup has also reaffirmed the critical need for accountability for the crimes committed by the Tatmadaw. Canada continues to pursue a joint intervention with the Netherlands in support of The Gambia’s case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, and supports the work of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. We continue to work with our international partners to ensure justice for the victims, and accountability for the perpetrators, of gross violations and abuses of human rights.

Building an international constituency to urge the immediate cessation of violence and release of detainees, and to advance peace, democracy, accountability and human rights remains a priority for the Government of Canada.

Open for signature
March 26, 2021, at 2:56 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 25, 2021, at 2:56 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
May 6, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00915)
Government response tabled
June 21, 2021
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus
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