A controversial political organization has refused to take down a video recorded at one of their events that shows a man claiming that Muslim Rohingya are “not people” and that they should not be allowed into Canada.
The video, which was recorded as part of a National Citizens Alliance (NCA) event on mass immigration in Red Deer, Alta., on Nov. 25, shows a man identifying himself as being from Burma – also known as Myanmar – speaking about the Muslim minority group in his home country.
“These people, they cause huge problems,” the man said. “Those people, they’re not human. I’m not saying all of them. But a lot of them.”
So far, the video has been watched 3,200 times.
Stephen Garvey, the head of the political organization, which holds controversial views on immigration and multiculturalism, says the party will not take the video down, saying it is protected by free speech.
“I don’t support everything people say but it was a public discussion. There were a lot of different opinions,” Garvey said, saying that he believed the man was referring to “Islamic radicals” like ISIS and not the Rohingya in general.
The Rohingya have been victims of a campaign of mass killings and gang rapes by the Myanmar military, a series of events that the Canadian House of Commons unanimously voted to call a genocide in September.
More than 10,000 people are estimated to have been killed and more than 700,000 have fled Myanmar since the country’s military launched attacks against the Muslim minority group, more than a year ago.
A UN report said the military action, which included the scorching of villages, was “grossly disproportionate to actual security threats” and was carried out with “genocidal intent.”
The United Nations defines genocide as acts meant to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group in whole or in part. Such a designation is rare under international law, but has been used in countries including Bosnia and Sudan and in the Islamic State campaign against the Yazidi communities in Iraq and Syria.
WATCH: House of Commons votes unanimously to label Myanmar Rohingya killings a genocide
The National Citizens Alliance styles itself as a political party, despite not being officially registered with Elections Canada.
Garvey says they’re committed to running candidates in the 2019 federal election and that they’ll be officially registered in the new year.
Among the group’s core tenets is the goal of implementing a “strong no-nonsense immigration policy that puts the well-being and safety of the Canadian people first and implementing a temporary pause and substantial reduction in immigration.”
Other planks in the NCA’s proposed platform include the ”integration” of new arrivals into the “basic cultural norms of Canada” and a belief that political correctness threatens Canada’s identity and culture.
The party’s website displays statements that are anti-Islam, including a belief that the burka or niqab is not part of Canada’s cultural norms.
Despite the controversy, Garvey says the organization remains committed to holding an event on the same topic in Halifax on Dec. 8 — although they are still searching for a venue.
The NCA has not been well received during previous visits to Nova Scotia.
Rallies held by the party have been disrupted by protesters, who say that the group’s message has no place in the province.
In May, the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival banned the NCA from attending the festival after having allowed the organization to take part in the festival’s parade.
Garvey says he’s thought about offering his candidacy in Nova Scotia after the response his organization has received in the province.
“We’re not racist,” he said. “We’re all about freedom of speech.”
— With files from Reuters