AFP, 28 November, 2017- Pope Francis called for respect for rights and justice in a keenly-watched address in Myanmar on Tuesday, but refrained from any mention of the Rohingya or the alleged ethnic cleansing that has driven huge numbers of the Muslim minority from the country.
Sharing a stage with Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyidaw, he did not address the Rohingya crisis head-on but instead tip-toed around the unfolding humanitarian emergency.
Peace can only be achieved through “justice and a respect for human rights”, he said in a broadly-framed speech that also called for “respect for each ethnic group and its identity”.
The word “Rohingya”, an incendiary term in a mainly Buddhist country where the Muslim minority are denied citizenship and branded illegal “Bengali” immigrants, was entirely absent from his speech.
Francis has repeatedly defended the group, some 620,000 of whom have fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh since August.