- Oct 22, 2020
During his Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis asked people to pray for the persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority and expressed his closeness to them. The pope is expected to travel to Myanmar this year and will be making their plight one of the topics of discussion while he is there.
Founded in 1991, Burma Campaign UK is one of the leading international organizations seeking reform in the country. Its director Mark Farmaner says Pope Francis is likely to face a challenging time when he visits Burma, also known as Myanmar, in a trip which is expected in late November. The pope has spoken up many times to protest the treatment of the Rohingya, a minority Muslim population facing persecution in the country.
In November, Myanmar’s army swept through villages where stateless Rohingya Muslims live in the area of Maungdaw. U.N. investigators who interviewed refugees said allegations of gang rape, torture, arson and killings by security forces in the operation were likely crimes against humanity.
Myanmar’s government has refused to allow members of a U.N. fact-finding mission to enter the country in order to investigate human rights abuses against the Rohingya minority. Vatican officials have spoken out against the country’s decision to put international politics first and human rights later.
Cardinal Charles Bo has called on the government of Myanmar to move away from “positions that are not conducive to peace and its good name in the international community,” but also called on the supporters of the Rohingyas to “move forward maximizing peace based on justice at every opportunity.”
A UN report in February described the situation of the Rohingya community in Rakhine State a possible “genocide” and described a set of “crimes against humanity” in Myanmar, noting the Rohingyas are in effect stateless, and facing a “campaign of terror.” Cardinal Charles Bo now says there is no “ethnic cleansing” taking place however.