By Barry Ellsworth
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Friday with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and he is expected to urge resolution to the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, the prime minister’s office confirmed Thursday.
The Canadian government has not been overly critical of the Myanmar leader’s efforts to end the slaughter of the Rohingya because the military is not under her control.
The Myanmar Constitution states the commander-in-chief of the military is his own boss and is not required to follow Suu Kyi’s wishes, even as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to escape what the UN and Canada have called “ethnic cleansing.”
Trudeau spoke with Suu Kyi in September via telephone and wrote a letter that urged her to “protect innocent lives.”
The following month, Trudeau appointed Bob Rae special envoy to the Rohingya crisis and sent him to the region to witness the squalor in which the Rohingya are forced to live in Bangladesh.
Rae has also discussed the humanitarian crisis with officials in Bangladesh, where 70 percent of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are women and children.
Rohingya lack adequate food, medical treatment, water, housing and other basic necessities.
Rae and Trudeau will be at the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Friday and Rae is expected to brief the prime minister on his findings before Trudeau meets with Suu Kyi.
More than 611,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh since late August, according to the UN.
The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.
Approximately 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown, according to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali.
Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the issue at the UN.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district in October 2016, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
Suu Kyi is one of a handful of honorary citizens of Canada and her inaction on putting an end to the persecution of Rohingya by the Myanmar military has caused Canadian critics to demand she be stripped of that honor.