Trudeau urges just solution to Rohingya crisis

In Photo: Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi (left) shakes hands with President Duterte before the opening ceremony of the 31st Asean Summit in Manila on Monday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought up his country’s concerns about human rights and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines when he met with President Duterte, whose “war on drugs” has earned widespread condemnation for leaving thousands of suspected drug pushers and users dead.

Trudeau told a news conference he mentioned the issue to Duterte during their conversation on Tuesday before Canada’s summit with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He said he impressed on Duterte the need for respect for the rule of law and offered Canada’s support and help. Duterte, he added, was receptive to his comments.

US President Donald J. Trump did not publicly take Duterte to task for the drug crackdown and avoided questions about whether he’d raise human-rights concerns with the Filipino leader during a private meeting.

Trudeau also told Southeast Asian heads of state, including Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, that he’s asked his special envoy to engage in diplomatic efforts to find ways in which Canada can help resolve the Rohingya crisis.

He called on Tuesday for a “sustainable and just solution” to the ongoing crisis, stressing the importance of recommendations and the final report of the advisory commission headed by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to help chart the path toward a peaceful resolution.

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August, when their homes were torched by Buddhist mobs and soldiers. Although Rohingya Muslims have lived in Myanmar for decades, the country’s Buddhist majority still sees them as invaders from Bangladesh. The government denies them basic rights, and the United Nations has called them one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

Trudeau told the Asean-Canada summit that his country will continue to support humanitarian and political efforts and will continue to work with Myanmar and Bangladesh to allow for the return of displaced people.

Suu Kyi has assured other Southeast Asian nations that her government is implementing the recommendations of a commission led by Annan on the situation in Rakhine state, where more than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

Presidential Spokesman Harry L.  Roque also said Suu Kyi pledged on Monday that repatriation of the displaced people would begin within three weeks after Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh. The memorandum was signed on October 24. He added Suu Kyi gave no further details.

Roque added at least two Asean leaders brought up the Rohingya issue on Monday.

Roque said Suu Kyi did not refer to the Rohingya by name.

Image Credits: AP