POPE FRANCIS urged inclusion for all of Myanmar’s minorities yesterday — but did not name the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.
Francis avoided the term in his speech to de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other dignitaries in the capital Naypyitaw.
Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya on its official list of minorities and the government argues most are immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. But Myanmar’s military is accused of conducting a huge and murderous ethnic cleansing operation, driving hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from their homes in response to small-scale separatist guerilla activity in August.
Last month the United Nations reported that more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees had fled to Bangladesh in just two months.
The Pope said Myanmar’s future lay in “a peace based on respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, respect for each ethnic group and its identity.”
But at a refugee camp in Rakhine, Rohingya man Kyaw Naing said: “It’s so sad to see that even the holiest man cannot call our identity.”
On Monday Francis met General Min Aung Hlaing, who is in charge of the operations in Rakhine, who said later he was ready for “interfaith peace, unity and justice.”