Canadian parliament votes to strip Suu Kyi of honorary citizenship

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, Ontario, on June 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Lars Hagberg

On Friday, a week after Canada’s House of Commons voted to recognize Myanmar’s crimes against the Rohingya as genocide, the same body voted unanimously to strip Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship.

Suu Kyi received the honor from Canada’s parliament in 2007, when she was serving a house arrest sentence imposed by Myanmar’s military junta.

Adam Austen, spokesman for Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, said the revocation was a response to a “persistent refusal to denounce the Rohingya genocide”.

Lawmaker Salma Zahid wrote on Twitter: “Her unwillingness to take any moral leadership for the genocide of the Rohingya in her country is inexcusable, and deeply disappointing.”

The vote follows a slew of decisions taken by city councils, universities, and other institutions to revoke honors given to Suu Kyi before she entered politics.

However, the removal of her honorary citizenship will not be complete unless the decision is supported by Canada’s Senate.

On Thursday, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that he would consider looking into removing the Myanmar leader’s honorary citizenship, but he pointed out that doing so would not be a solution to Myanmar’s problems, which include the mass expulsion of more than 700,000 Rohingya over the last year.

Parliament member Andrew Leslie, who introduced last week’s motion to recognize the crimes against the Rohingya as genocide, said the process of fully revoking Suu Kyi’s citizenship was unclear.

The attention paid by Canada’s House of Commons to the situation in Myanmar has been precipitated by a series of recent events at the UN, including the release of the findings of a fact-finding mission, which accused Myanmar of genocide, and the adoption on Thursday of a resolution by the Human Rights Council to “establish an ongoing independent mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011”.

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