Canada’s parliament voted unanimously on Thursday to strip Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary Canadian citizenship.
The motion introduced in the House of Commons also reiterated its support for a motion adopted last week to recognize the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar as “an act of genocide.”
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was awarded honorary Canadian citizenship in 2007 for her role in fostering democratic change in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
But Suu Kyi’s failure to condemn the brutal crackdown by Myanmar security forces and Buddhist mobs on the Rohingya Muslim minority has seen her widely condemned around the world.
A growing chorus of voices has been calling on the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to strip her of the honour she shared with the likes of Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, the Aga Khan and Malala Yousafzai.
“Our government supported this motion in response to her continued failure to speak out against the genocide of the Rohingya, a crime being committed by the military with which she shares power,” Adam Austen, press secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said.
“We will continue to support the Rohingya people through humanitarian assistance, targeted sanctions against Myanmar’s generals and by pushing for accountability for those responsible through an appropriate international body,” he continued.
Liberal lawmaker Andrew Leslie, who introduced last week’s motion calling for the recognition of the Rohingya genocide, told CBC News the government was in uncharted territory because there is no precedent for revoking honorary citizenship, which has been granted only on six occasions.
“Keeping in mind this is the will of Parliament, now the machinery of government will actually chew over the details of what specifically is required to implement,” Leslie told CBC News.
In February, Canada imposed sanctions on a high-ranking member of the Myanmar military under Ottawa’s newly adopted Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, also known as the Magnitski Act.
Major General Maung Maung Soe was targeted for sanctions for his role in the brutal security crackdown against the Rohingya population in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Freeland said.