OTTAWA — Canada’s religious freedom ambassador denounced Wednesday the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar and urged Canadian businesses eager to find opportunities in that resource-rich country to respect human rights.
Ambassador Andrew Bennett said he also delivered his concerns about the well-document persecution of the Rohingya Muslim population directly to Myanmar government officials, including the country’s foreign affairs minister.
“Now really is the moment for a more inclusive process that brings all religious and ethnic communities together so that they can contribute to the country’s development,” Bennett, who was on a lengthy trip to the south Asian country, told The Canadian Press in an interview from Yangon.
- Number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar since 2012 tops 100,000
- Myanmar denies health care to Rohingya; Doctors Without Borders shut down
“There is prejudice that exists towards Muslims throughout the country. This is an ongoing challenge not only for Rohingya Muslims, but the situation facing them is particularly acute.”
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has faced widespread criticism for its persecution of Rohingya Muslims.
Human Rights Watch has said that discriminatory policies have displaced 130,000 Rohingya Muslims, forcing them into closed camps.
Canada has placed a priority on deepening economic engagement with Myanmar as it emerges from half a century of military-led, totalitarian rule, and opened an embassy in Yangon in 2014.
A World Bank report last fall described Myanmar as having great economic potential, touting its “fertile lands, significant untapped agricultural potential and a rich endowment of natural resources.”
Bennett invited Canadian businesses to visit his office before they pursue corporate ventures in Myanmar.
“Any Canadian businesses that are looking to engage in Burma, as with any country, they need to be aware of the human rights situation,” said Bennett.
Note:Changes have been made,CTV NEWS is not responsible for these.