Pope Francis fails to mention Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar speech

From the webmaster: This is a  huge disappointment to those concerned with the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Muslim minority 

684x384_story-dd8c2711-7259-5f5c-98e2-f80f95743ab4_121300Pope Francis has given a speech in Myanmar without specifically mentioning its Muslim Rohingya community.

The south-east Asian country has been accused of ethnic cleansing with 620,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh since August.

Escapees told Save The Children there had been widespread rape, children burnt alive and dams being filled with bodies.

The pope said in his address on Tuesday (November 28): “The arduous process of peacebuilding and national reconciliation can only advance through a commitment to justice and respect for human rights.

“In the great work of national reconciliation and integration, Myanmar’s religious communities have a privileged role to play.

“Religious differences need not be a source of division and distrust, but rather a force for unity, forgiveness, tolerance and wise nation-building.

“The religions can play a significant role in repairing the emotional, spiritual and psychological wounds of those who have suffered in the years of conflict.”

His trip is so delicate that some papal advisors warned him against even saying the word “Rohingya”, lest he set off a diplomatic incident that could turn the country’s military and government against minority Christians.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as citizens nor as members of a distinct ethnic group with their own identity, and it rejects the term “Rohingya” and its use.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EURONEWS 

 

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Immigrants from Myanmar hope for papal message of compassion

20171011T1159-12137-CNS-POPE-SCHEDULE-MYANMAR-BANGLADESH cropPHOENIX — Muslims and Catholics from Myanmar living in the United States would like Pope Francis to reiterate the message of “compassion for humanity” when the pope visits their country.

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Sheraz Islam, a Rohingya refugee, said the pope is a “holy man and a God-fearing person” and he has “great compassion” for Myanmar’s Rohingya people because of their plight. Regardless of what ethnicity they are, what religion they belong to, or whether they are men or women, “they are a part of humanity,” said Sheraz, who is convinced that is the reason why the pope calls the Rohingya his “brothers and sisters.”

Francis is scheduled to visit Myanmar Nov. 27-30 and Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec.2.

Sheraz was born in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, home to the Rohingya Muslim people since the eighth century. However, Rohingya are not only denied citizenship, but also freedom of movement and education. Their jobs are also restricted. They have faced military crackdowns since the 1970s.

In the most recent attacks, Rohingya survivors recounted stories of sexual assaults, murder and arson of homes in villages in Rakhine state.

Sheraz resettled in the United States in 2012. He said the oppression against the Rohingya people by the Myanmar military was not as bad then.

His parents and relatives decided to flee to Bangladesh because of the recent military crackdown. During the four- to five-day journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh, “my father died along the way in early September. It was a difficult journey and he probably died of exhaustion,” Sheraz said.

He hopes that during Francis’ visit, the pope will give the message that Rohingya are a part of humanity, no matter their religion, and that they are suffering from persecution.

The oppression Sheraz referred to was a response by the Myanmar military and Rakhine militants toward Rohingya militants who attacked security checkpoints in late August.

The crackdown — called “ethnic cleansing” by the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights — forced more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. The latest arrivals were added to the more than 300,000 Rohingya who had fled attacks in past years.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER 

Christians, Muslims Unite to Protest Against Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis

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As thousands of civilian Rohingya Muslims are fleeing what the United Nations has called “ethnic cleansing” in northern Myanmar, India’s Christians and Muslims and people of other faiths got together in the central Indian city of Lucknow on Friday to protest and call for an end to the ongoing “genocide.”

The protesters, who gathered after Friday prayers at the Aishbagh Eidgah mosque in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, used strong language on placards, including “United Nations should boycott the Myanmar government” and “Those putting Hindus and Muslims of Rohingya to torture are terrorists,” according to The Time of India.

The ethnic Rohingya Muslims have faced discrimination and statelessness in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for decades, and torture and killings in recent years. About 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh due to Myanmar’s military attacks on them in Rakhine state since since Aug. 25, when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, allegedly a “separatist” group, launched an attack on police posts and a military base in Rakhine state.

Those fleeing are having to walk for more than a week to cross the border.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN POST 

 

Christians stand up for Rohingyas censuring human rights abuses

Pakistani Christians stand up against atrocities being committed in Myanmar. Raising their voice against human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims, Christians staged a protest in the Capital. They urged the international community to act in order to thwart violence and save lives of Rohingyas.

Myanmar a Town Divided

As condemnation continues to pour in from international community, Pakistani Christians also staged a protest in front of National Press Club in Islamabad. Christians from all walks of life took part in this protest. They urged the international community to provide security to the Rohingya Muslims who are facing systematic genocide.

Also Read: Christian student’s lynching discussed in National Assembly of Pakistan

The protesters said that the killings of Rohingya Muslims can be termed as a genocide which needs to be checked. Addressing the gathering, Christian lawyer Advocate Sheheryar Shams Chairman of Pakistan’s Christian Citizen Forum said that Rohingya Muslims were declared foreigners on unfair and illegal terms.

He said that Rohingyas were illegally deprived of their nationality. Moreover, they were not being accepted by either Myanmar or Bangladesh. He said that out of 60 million total population of Myanmar, there are 25 percent religious minorities including 22 percent Muslims. The protesters were carrying placards while they chanted slogans government and military of Myanmar for carrying out inhumane violence against Rohingyas.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANSINPAKISTAN 

 

Muslims and Christians in Burma still face persecution, U.S. officials warn

– Rohingya Muslims in Burma, as well as Christians, face continued persecution, destruction of homes and places of worship, and threats to their lives, human rights organizations are warning.

Throughout the country’s history, Burmese officials have maintained control “through a divide and rule strategy, pitting Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims against each other,” said Father Thomas Reese, SJ, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in a December 13 discussion in Washington, D.C.

“The plight of both Rohingya Muslims and Christians results from successive governments that have both perpetuated and supported religious violations,” Reese continued. “It’s time for Burma to defend religious freedom,” he urged.

Two reports by the organization highlight the abuses suffered by religious minorities in Burma, also known as Myanmar, as well as by practitioners of the majority Buddhist religion who dissent from the mainline practice or government positions.

Christians in the country face discrimination, forced conversions, violence and desecration of churches and Christian communities says the USCIRF Report “Hidden Plight: Christian Minorities in Burma.”

Meanwhile, according to “Suspended in Time: The Ongoing Persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma,” members of the Muslim ethnic group are denied basic human rights like food, shelter, water, citizenship, or the ability to move.

The reports come days after international human rights organization Human Rights Watch released an analysis of images taken of a Rohingya village in Rakhine state, which it says link the Burmese army to the arson of the village.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUXNOW.COM

Fears of new unrest as Myanmar ponders monk-backed interfaith marriage ban

140529065432-myanmar-monks-interfaith-marriage-story-top(CNN) — Myanmar’s government has begun unveiling drafts of proposed laws that critics say are motivated by religious hatred, and could take discrimination against the country’s marginalized Muslim minority to new heights.

The four bills are based on a petition presented by a group of nationalist Buddhist monks to President Thein Sein in July last year, calling for curbs on interfaith marriage and religious conversions, among other measures. According to the monks, it’s a matter of protecting race and religion and encouraging peace.

Tensions between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority in Myanmar, also known as Burma, have been high since deadly violence erupted between the groups in 2012, as the country emerged from decades of authoritarian military rule. A faction of Buddhist nationalists has been criticized, accused of drumming up hostility.

The first draft bill — stemming from a request from a coalition of monks known as the Organization for the Protection of Race, Religion, and Belief — was published in state media Tuesday, with a call for public comment by June 20. The proposed law would require anyone seeking to change their religion to obtain permission from a number of different local authorities.

Targeting Muslims?

While the bill applied to all religions, human rights and civil society groups believe it is driven out of a concern to prevent the spread of Islam in the predominantly Buddhist country.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN 

0703YANGON-articleLargeAdam Dean for The New York Times

YANGON, Myanmar — Night can be very dark in Yangon, a city where street lamps, when there are any, flicker on and off with the uneven electricity supply. For a group of Muslim men guarding their neighborhood until dawn, it is never clear what is lurking down the potholed roads and alleyways.

“The government cannot guarantee our safety,” said U Nyi Nyi, a businessman who sat on a plastic chair with a half-dozen of the 130 men he has organized for an improvised Muslim neighborhood watch program.

After decades of peaceful coexistence with the Buddhist majority in the country, Muslims say they now constantly fear the next attack. Over the past year, they say several violent episodes across the country led by rampaging Buddhist mobs have taught them that if violence comes to their neighborhood, they are on their own.

“I don’t think the police will protect us,” Mr. Nyi Nyi said.

The neighborhood watch program, a motley corps of men who check for any suspicious outsiders and keep wooden clubs and metal rods stashed nearby, is a symbol of how much relations have deteriorated between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

About 90 percent of the country’s population of 55 million is Buddhist, with Muslims making up 4 to 8 percent.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES