Pope refers to 'Rohingya' for first time on Asia tour

02 December, 2017, 00:31 | Author: Joy Garcia
  • Pope Francis Prays Alongside Rohingya Muslim Refugees During Trip To Bangladesh

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke dismissed the idea that Francis - who has used the Rohingya term before - diminished his moral authority by avoiding a direct reference to the group during his visit to Myanmar, the first by a Pope to the Buddhist-majority country.

He also said "let's not turn away" from it.

The 16, three families from the Cox Bazar refugee camp, were 12 men and boys, two women and two girls.

"In the name of everyone, of those who persecute you, of those who've done you wrong, above all, the world's indifference, I ask you for forgiveness", Francis told the refugees. "We give you space in our hearts", the Pope said.

Some 620,000 Rohingyas, who are Muslims originally from Bangladesh, have fled there after a campaign of repression that has spurred a wave of world condemnation, including from the pope.

He did not identify the Rohingya by name, ethnicity or faith, referring only to "refugees from Rakhine state". The Rohingya are not recognized as an official minority in Myanmar, effectively meaning they are denied citizenship.

Although he has used the word "Rohingya" in the past, Francis chose to listen to the advice of Myanmar's cardinal and refrain from using it during his time in Myanmar this week.

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The United Nations, the USA and the UK have accused the Myanmar military of ethnic cleansing, systematically driving the minority Muslim population from their homes through murder, rape and terror.

Myanmar's military leader Min Aung Hlaing reportedly told the pope during a private meeting earlier this week that "Myanmar has no religious discrimination at all".

On Friday, the last full day of the pontiff's trip, Francis spoke to the Rohingya refugees one by one and listened to their stories with the help of translators.

"None of us can fail to be aware of the gravity of the situation, the huge toll of human suffering involved, and the precarious living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters, a majority of whom are women and children, crowded in the refugee camps", he said.

According to Dhaka Tribune, Prime Minister introduced her younger sister Sheikh Rehana to Pope Francis after the meeting.

"I will share my pain with him", the woman said.

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