Pope Francis speaks out on Rakhine crackdown

By AFP

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Wednesday spoke out over the alleged maltreatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya community, who he said were being “tortured and killed” for their faith.

The pontiff used his midweek address to describe the Rohingya as “good and peaceful people” who “have suffered for years.”

Francis offered a special prayer for “brothers and sisters” as he alluded to a UN human rights report last week which accused Myanmar’s military of likely killing hundreds of Rohingya in an ongoing crackdown.

The report by the UN’s rights body OHCHR said the accounts of torture, murder and gang-rape at the hands of security forces were so severe they may amount to ethnic cleansing.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

Almost 70,000 Rohingya are reported to have fled to Bangladesh since the army launched “clearance operations” four months ago to find Rohingya militants accused of attacking police border posts.

An estimated 22,000 more have fled to the Myanmar interior according to the UN report, based on 200 interviews and including brutal testimonies of children butchered with knives while their mothers were raped by security forces.

The Rohingya, are treated as illegal foreigners in Myanmar and are not accorded citizenship even if their families have lived there for generations.

Myanmar authorities on Tuesday insisted that a state commission investigating allegations of its military abusing Rohingya was focused on the “truth”.

But critics have rejected the state-appointed body, which is led by retired general and Vice President U Myint Swe and includes no Muslims, as toothless and lacking in credibility.

The UN’s top official on preventing genocide, Adama Dieng, Monday dubbed the commission as “not a credible option” to investigate the abuse claims.

“I am concerned that the government commission … found nothing to substantiate the claims, while OHCHR … found an overwhelming number of testimonies and other forms of evidence,” Dieng said.

Pope Francis also used his Wednesday address to call on governments to combat child trafficking, which he described as “a plague” and a “shameful and intolerable” crime.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar