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The Pope calls on Myanmar respect for all ethnic minorities in the country

It 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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The Pope calls on Myanmar respect for all ethnic minorities in the country

The Pope finally followed advice of all his advisers and avoided uttering word taboo. But he didn't need to understand him. In clear reference Rohingya, ethnic Muslim minority expelled from Rakhine region by Burmese army, Francisco requested in most relevant speech of his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh that rights of "each ethnic group and its identity" be respected. In addition, pontiff reminded Myanmar of its 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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The staging is eloquent. 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 which, however, allows to measure political relevance of speech that Francis launched yesterday before Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, with implicit references to exodus of more than 600,000 Rohingya, Muslim minority that Burmese army He's expelled from country. 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 count. Naypyidaw is ghostly political capital, a city of indeterminate population, created in 2005 in 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, who invited him last May and with whom he met yesterday in private for about 45 minutes.

The discourse that came later, sewn with a careful but direct diplomatic rhetoric, did not avoid central me and gave a boost to Aung San Suu Kyi, maligned by international community for ir apparent passivity in conflict with Rohingya. The Vatican has shown se days of understanding that it is in a difficult situation where military still holds political power. "I would like to offer a word of encouragement to all 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 that Burmese leader thanked in his speech, but in which he also stressed that Myanmar has many or "challenges" besides that of " Rakhine region" [where Rohingya inhabited], which "has captured world's attention more strongly".

Myanmar, a country of 52 million inhabitants and 135 recognized ethnic minorities, remains a delicate democracy – Aung San Suu Kyi's weakness, which could not even be elected president after winning election, has been evidenced – that she falters with The convulsions of every 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 defines Rohingya, deprived of Burmese nationality, despite inhabiting territory from several generations. "One can only advance through commitment to justice and respect for human rights," he claimed.

The Pope's journey takes place seven months after Vatican opened diplomatic relations with Myanmar during Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to Holy See. A time when he also started to cook this trip, originally linked to a possible visit to India and without anything allowed to anticipate current situation. But that legal and political recognition of Holy See, he recalled yesterday, 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 and where army is completely inclined toward Buddhist interests and customs. 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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