2nd Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 149, Issue 69

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


Rohingya Muslims

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw attention to the oppression of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The United Nations has called the now-stateless Rohingya one of the most persecuted minorities on Earth. The Rohingya have been in Myanmar since the 8th century, yet the government refuses to grant them citizenship. Instead, they are called Bengali insurgents who are in Myanmar illegally. Prominent Buddhist leaders and government officials have used dangerous rhetoric against them. Some Buddhist leaders have compared Muslims to jackals and wolves in order to dehumanize them.

Honourable senators, the action taken by the Buddhist majority population is ethnic cleansing. In October 2012, organized mobs of Arakanese Buddhists attacked nine Rohingya villages, savagely beating and killing many Muslims. A 24-year-old Rohingya man from Yan Thei village had his way of living destroyed in minutes. This is how he described the events:

There were so many Arakanese coming to our village, from every side. They surrounded the village. The Arakanese stormed our village and started setting fire to our houses and threatening to kill us.

Women and children fled the village first and some of the Arakanese chased them and killed them while some other Arakanese were still in the village, burning houses down. At least 30 children were killed, 25 women, and 10 men.

In Yan Thei village, the authorities knew that an attack was imminent. However, the government was indifferent to the pleas of Rohingya Muslims. Throughout the villages attacked in October 2012, the stories are disgracefully similar. Since the start of the attacks, many Rohingya have been expelled from their homes and restricted to overcrowded camps. Here they are subjected to malnourishment and cruel treatments. Human rights and medical aid organizations have tried to help, but they have been restricted by government forces.

Honourable senators, this Friday, June 13, marks the second anniversary of the escalating violence against Rohingya Muslims. I ask you to please wear black in solidarity with the oppressed Rohingya in Myanmar.

Honourable senators, in our great country, I’m absolutely proud and thrilled to be able to practise my faith with pride. In fact, when I first came to the Senate, for the first year, during Ramadan, I fasted alone. The second year, Mark Audcent and many Senate employees celebrated Ramadan with me, although they are not Muslims. They fasted with me. Honourable senators, I dream of a day when people all over the world will be able to exercise their faith as we do in our great country.


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