This past Wednesday, Feb. 8, the Pope called for prayer for “our Rohingya brothers and sisters who are being chased from Myanmar.” He spoke to a crowd of some 7,000 pilgrims in the Vatican. “They are good people, they are not Christians, they are peaceful people, they are our brothers and sisters, and for years they have been suffering. They are being tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith,” Francis said.
The Pope’s prayer comes in the aftermath of a damning report from the United Nations on the treatment of the Rohingyas in northern Myanmar. As UN investigators are still not being allowed into the Rakhine state where most of the violence is being perpetrated, the report is based off of the statements of the thousands of refugees who have fled the country. The report notes a strong consistency in the testimony of the Rohingya, testimony that indicates serious human rights violations being committed against the minority. Myanmar security forces and mobs of people have been implicated. “Numerous testimonies collected from people from different village tracts…confirmed that the army deliberately set fire to houses with families inside, and in other cases pushed Rohingyas into already burning houses,” the report states. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the government of Myanmar to accept responsibility, saying “the Government of Myanmar must immediately halt these grave human rights violations against its own people, instead of continuing to deny they have occurred, and accepts the responsibility to ensure that victims have access to justice, reparations and safety.” The Episcopal Cafe reported on the dire straits of the Rohingya in November, and that article has more information about the background of this situation.
The full report can be found here. Content note for descriptions of violence.