Journalists who follow pope on his visit to Myanmar (formerly Burma) have been waiting for weeks for a word. Rohingya. The bravery, cowardice or diplomacy of pope on his journey to this country in midst of a democratic transition will be measured if he pronounces se eight letters during his stay. They did come out of ir mouth recently in St. Peter's Square. It criticized n leader of Catholic Church exodus of more than 600,000 members of this Muslim minority, systematically expelled from ir houses by Burmese soldiers. But one thing is to say it in Vatican and anor very different, in Myanmar, where word is anama. That is why Burmese cardinal, Charles Moung Bo, publicly asked him before trip that he did not utter cursed name. Last year, hundreds of Burmese people showed up at U.S. Embassy in Yagón to demand that y stop using word, which also uses UN.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority who – and this is key – is not recognized as one of 135 ethnic minorities that make up this country, diverse as few, a true mosaic. It is enough to see colourful colours that distinguish representatives of one and or ethnicities that make up this former British colony ( Bamar, Karen, Shan, Kachin ...) in opening sessions of Parliament. And as law does not recognize m, for Burmese authorities Rohingya do not exist. They lost citizenship by law in 1982. Today y are stateless, largest community of stateless people in world.Learn More
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The Burmese call m Bengali (by Gulf of Bengal whose shores y live) and y consider m irregular immigrants arrived from neighboring Bangladesh although many of m had generations in Myanmar until y were expelled. Before last episode of persecution, under cover of an anti-terrorist operation, y added around one million Rohingya in country. Anor key is that Myanmar is a country of Buddhist majority (although with Buddhist citizens, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews ...). Bangladesh, which welcomes m, is, on or hand, a Muslim majority. The majority of Burmese consider Rohingya, and ir high birth rates, a threat. The Pope's leeway is limited. In Myanmar Live 700,000 Christians, around 1% of population, and will certainly not want to put m at risk because he will leave, but y stay.
The Burmese Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been highly criticized for her silence in face of persecution of Rohingya, neir pronounces nor wants ors to do so. So when he commissioned Kofi Annan, a former UN secretary general, a report on situation of Rohingya expressly asked him to use an equidistant term to refer to this community, which lives in state of Rakhine: "At request of State Councilor ( Aung San), Commission does not use Bengali or Rohingya, but Muslims. With that descriptive term, neutral, without any connotation, he calls m along pages of his report to a peaceful, just and prosperous future for people of Rakhine. I mean, Rohingya.