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Pope Francis calls on Myanmar respect for minorities but avoids the word Rohingya

The pontiff gives a boost to the criticized Aung San Suu Kyi and invokes, without citing them directly, the human rights of the Rohingya

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Pope Francis calls on Myanmar respect for minorities but avoids the word Rohingya

The Pope finally followed advice of all his advisers and avoided uttering word taboo. No need. In most relevant speech of his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, in a clear reference to Rohingya, ethnic Muslim minority expelled from Rakhine region by Burmese army, Francisco called for respect for rights of "each ethnic group and its identity." In addition, pontiff reminded his host of his obligations as a member of international community and invoked value and validity of UN, which has defined military campaign unleashed against Rohingya as "manual ethnic cleansing".

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He missed word. But staging was eloquent enough. The head of Catholic Church defending peace and rights of a Muslim minority representing only 1% of population in a Buddhist country. A religious context so alien to Vatican that it allows to measure political relevance of speech that Francis launched before de facto head of government and Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, with references to fulfilment of human rights and exodus of more than 600.0 00 Rohingya. A discrimination that chief of Army, Min Aung Hlaing, denied day before pope in an improvised encounter that forced to change agenda and gave signs of concern generated among Burmese elites by possible words of pontiff.

The trip to Myanmar, turned into an unexpected political challenge, takes place in a delicate diplomatic equilibrium in which scenarios also count. Naypyidaw is ghostly political capital, a city of indeterminate population, created in 2005 in middle of an iconic territory for Burmese army in ir struggles against colonization. Large empty avenues between paddy fields and a ministerial town planning fruit of a communist military order that still weighs on political decisions. The pope met re with country's president, Htin Kyaw. But, above all, with Minister of State and Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, with whom she was in private for about 45 minutes.

Myanmar, a country of 52 million inhabitants and 135 recognized ethnic minorities officially, remains a blurred democracy that falters with convulsions of each conflict. The Pope underlined it by warning that country "continues to suffer because of civil strife and hostilities that have long created deep divisions." In addition, he thanked work of various groups "with aim of ending violence [...]" "and ensure respect for rights of those who regard this land as ir home." A rhetorical formula that perfectly defines Rohingya, deprived of Burmese nationality despite inhabiting region from which it has been expelled from several generations. "We can only advance through commitment to justice and respect for human rights," he analyzed.

The discourse, sewn with a careful diplomatic rhetoric, invoked Charter of Human Rights and also gave a boost to Burmese leader, maligned by international community for its apparent passivity in conflict with Rohingya. A political account that favors army in its attempt to demonstrate futility of young democracy. The Vatican has shown se days of understanding that it is in a difficult situation. "I would like to offer a word of encouragement to those who are working to build a just, reconciled and inclusive social order," he said at time that he invoked "a democratic order that allows each individual and group — without excluding anyone — to offer ir "Legitimate contribution to common good." Something Burmese leader thanked in his speech, but in which he also emphasized that Myanmar has many or "challenges" besides that of " Rakhine region" [where Rohingya inhabit], which "has captured world's attention more strongly".

The Pope's journey comes six months after Vatican officially engages in diplomatic relations with Myanmar. It was during Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to Holy See, at which time she also began to cook this trip, originally linked to a possible visit to India. This legal and political recognition of Holy See, recalled Pope, also implies a series of obligations. "The presence of diplomatic corps among us testifies not only to place occupied by Myanmar among nations, but also to country's commitment to maintaining and implementing se fundamental principles." Fully involved in role of ecumenical leader he has assumed since his appointment, Francisco recalled that "religious differences should not be a source of division and mistrust, but rar an impulse for unity."

The Rohingya crisis has an obvious political, economic and religious background in a country encased between China and India, where Buddhism is practically a state religion defended by army. In morning, pope had seen leader of community — who he encouraged to live in peace and fraternity — and with or religious groups in Myanmar. Everyone asked m to use ir beliefs to solve problems conserving, but always ir own essence. "Do not let yourself be matched by colonization of cultures."


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