Pope Francis Urges Myanmar to Protect and Respect Human Rights
By Mei Manuel, November 30, 2017 03:11 AM
On Tuesday, Pope Francis said that Myanmar is currently suffering from civil conflict and hostilities that "have lasted all too long and created deep divisions", but it is noticable that he did not refer to the affected minority Rohingya Muslims.
In his address in Naypyitaw after meeting Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Pope said "the arduous process of peacebuilding and national reconciliation can only advance through a commitment to justice and respect for human rights."
He further adds, "Religious differences need not be a source of division and distrust, but rather a force for unity, forgiveness, tolerance, and wise nationbuilding."
Pope Francis is currently in Myanmar as part of his apostolic visit in the country and Bangladesh this week. It is also in time after the exodus of 620,000 Rohingya people from the Rakhine state fled to Bangladesh after a military crackdown in the region. Myanmar denies the accusations that the activities of the army in the region is a form of "ethnic cleansing."
Pope Francis has been advised to refrain from saying the word "Rohingya" as he may accidentally set off a diplomatic incident that may push the government and the military to turn their attention to Christians.
The Rohingya people are not recognized as citizens in Myanmar or as a part of a distinct ethnic group. They also reject the use of the term "Rohingya" and the term itself.
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