Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland to visit Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees

Her deafening silence over the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military has seen nearly 700,000 refugees flee across the border to Bangladesh since last August.

Last November, both Bangladesh and Myanmar reached a deal to begin repatriation of the refugees but as of mid-March this year, only 374 Rohingya Muslim refugees have been verified - out of 8,032 that applied - for possible repatriation.

Rae said the crisis bears the hallmarks of genocide, and that the investigation should not exclude any Myanmar officials - even Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been globally criticised for her silence on the crisis, reports The Globe and Mail. The ambassadors have scheduled a Saturday arrival at Cox's Bazaar in southern Bangladesh, where the Rohingya who fled are now living in camps.

Expressing no shock regarding Freeland's decision to not visit Myanmar, he said the optics of meeting with the country's military - which led the crackdown on Rohingya in Rakhine state - would not be good.

The report called on Canada to lead an worldwide effort to investigate "clear evidence" that crimes against humanity were committed against the minority group. Myanmar security forces responded with a scorched-earth offensive against Rohingya villages that the United Nations and human rights groups have called a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Canada is playing host to G7 foreign affairs and security ministers in Toronto until Tuesday, ahead of the leaders' summit in Charlevoix, Que., this June.

The government of Buddhist-majority Myanmar doesn't recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group, insisting they are Bengali migrants from Bangladesh living illegally in the country.

The anticipated visit comes after Bob Rae, also a former Ontario premier and Liberal MP, published a report on the Rohingya crisis earlier this month where he called on Canada to lead an worldwide effort to investigate "clear evidence" that crimes against humanity were committed against the minority group.

During a three-day special summit between ASEAN and Australia held in Sydney last month, Suu Kyi was pressed hard on the issue.

She said the council will also be able "to draw attention to what it considers are the most flagrant human rights abuses and violations, and what needs to be done next to help Myanmar develop as a modern political and economic entity, and to help create the conditions where the refugees can go home in safety and security and dignity". She also held closed-door meetings at the U of T with her counterparts on Russian Federation, the Middle East, North Korea, Venezuela and China.



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