ADHRRF – On the evening of December 22, 2017, Professor John Packer, Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Center (University of Ottawa), gave a lecture at Noor Cultural Center in Toronto on the theme of “Addressing the Rohingya Genocide: What We Can and Must Do,” arguing that the genocide of the Rohingya is a matter of this age, which is in a grim situation, and if we don’t take any action, we’re bound to face more problems. The lecture attracted about 50 people from different fields.
In this lecture, Professor John Packer defined the Rohingya crisis as genocide under the international law. According to related reports, Myanmar’s crackdown on Rohingya has intensified dramatically since the outbreak of religious conflicts between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state in 2012. Many international investigations show that the Rohingya are facing the threat of genocide. They have no citizenship or access to basic human rights such as medical treatment, education and work. In the interview, Professor John Packer said, “Over time, the situation’s only gotten worse, so now I’m especially or particularly concerned because it’s really almost final stages of the end of, kind of, ‘slow burning genocide’ some people call it. So that’s why I’m concerned. And I will also say because it’s an issue of our time, it’s in the world, it’s an acute situation, if we do not respond to those situations, we will be doomed to have more of them.”
Professor Packer then made several suggestions on solving the genocide that the Rohingya are facing. He proposed that an analysis should be conducted in accordance with international law to draw a clear conclusion that can clearly and irrevocably articulate what is happening in Myanmar is an gross violation of international human rights, international criminal law and international humanitarian law, that there should not be any opportunities for those bearers of responsibilities to benefit from their position and their enormous benefit from the jade or jewelry trade should be limited, and that life-saving assistance should be provided immediately, which is being done now.
When he was asked what practical measures the Canadian government has taken by now, Professor John Packer answered, “Practically in terms of Canadian government, I’m not sure other than humanitarian. I do know that there have been certain efforts to express concern by our Prime Minister (and) by a special envoy who’s been appointed, who’s investigating the situation and have spoken with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi…. But beyond that, I think Canada’s involvement has been mainly humanitarian, and it’s been substantial on the humanitarian side. That must be recognized and that is a good thing, because there is a humanitarian catastrophe or crisis. Canada is playing a good role on that.”
In addition, it was reported that the deterioration of the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state has worsened since the end of this August. So far, over 620,000 people have been displaced and most of them have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, causing a humanitarian disaster. Because of this, the issue of refugees is attracting more and more international social attention. When asked whether the Canadian government would accept Rohingya refugees as Syrian refugees, Professor John Packer replied: “I know that we have accepted over the last number of years a limited number, I understand as many as 4,000 total, in the last 10 years. That’s a small number but it’s significant in terms of the world. I believe Canada will continue to accept in discussions with the High Commissioner for Refugees some repatriation. … I would like that Canada would accept more than they have. And I think they could target some, for example youth, for provision of education and assistance to them.”
It is reported that Professor John Packer was assistant to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar in 1993, during which he visited Rakhine state to investigate the attacks on Rohingya. Since then, he has been in contact with the Rohingya and has participated in the investigation of human rights issues in Myanmar until now.