Dhaka – Pope Francis, who is now in Bangladesh, has used the word ‘Rohingya’ breaking, of late, his silence over recognition of persecuted ethnic group, who fled violence in Myanmar, during his Asia visit.
“The presence of god is today also called Rohingya,” said the pontiff calling for help to the minority Muslims evicted from their ancestral homes for many times in the last six decades.
Francis had been advised by the Church not to use the word during the first leg of his trip to Myanmar as officials in this country do not consider them as citizens.
More than 524,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar army launched crackdown on suspected Rohingya insurgents in its restive Rakhine state, the ancestral home of the ethnic minority group, on August 25.
The army allegedly killed many Muslims, torched their homes, raped women and threw children into fire to force the Rohingya to find shelter across the border.
The influx of Rohingya refugees created an urgent humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh, where aid agencies are struggling to accommodate them with limited resources.
The United Nations called the clampdown a textbook example of ethnic cleansing as the human rights activists across the globe accused the Myanmar army of committing war crimes.
An independent commission earlier recommended Myanmar government to allow nationality of the Rohingya and take up schemes for improvement of their life.
The Pope now urged everyone to help the persecuted group to get recognition.
“We will continue to help them. We will continue to help so that their right is acknowledged and recognised. We will not close our hearts, we will not look at the other side,” Francis said after an interfaith prayer in Dhaka when a small group of Rohingya Muslims met him.
The group of Rohingya were brought from south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar where they live in squalid camps. The prayer at the archbishop’s home was attended by leaders of the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious minorities.
The pontiff blessed the members of the Rohingya group, listened to their stories and shook hands with all of them, including two women wearing black burqas and two children.
Bangladesh has been hosting yet another 400,000 Rohingya Muslims, whose citizenship in Myanmar was stripped off in the early 1980s, as they were driven away from their homes in Myanmar in the late 1970s and 1990s.
Francis, who arrived in Bangladesh Thursday wrapping up his three-day visit to Myanmar, called on the international community to take decisive measures to resolve the Asian refugee crisis.