Do you think the Pope’s visit to Myanmar will revolve the Rohingya Muslim issues?
Pope Francis’ long-awaited 4-day visit to Myanmar started on Monday (Nov 27) as the predominantly-Buddhist state continues to face condemnation from the global community over the government’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims.
Dressed in colourful ethnic traditional costumes, local Catholics joyfully welcomed the first visit to the country by a pontiff at the state capital Yangon’s aitport waving flags and dancing.
Political commentators generally described the visit comes at a “highly sensitive” time as more than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims have reportedly fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state for neighbouring Bangladesh in the past three months, after a military crackdown. Myanmar’s military continues to be accused of waging an ethnic cleansing war against the Rohingya Muslims.
The international community hopes the pope’s visit will raise the pressure for Myanmar’s government, and provide a timely respite for the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, whom Pope Francis repeatedly calls his “brothers and sisters” in his speeches.
Francis will also hold talks with army chief Min Aung Hlaing, who stands accused as the political force behind the military’s ethnic cleansing war against the Rohingya Muslims.
Shortly before leaving the Vatican, the Pope spoke to a crowd of 30,000 people in St Peter’s Square, saying “I ask you to be with me in prayer so that, for these peoples, my presence is a sign of affinity and hope.”
It is estimated there are 700,000 Catholics in Myanmar, and that barely makes up 1% of its 51 million predominantly-Buddhist population.
More than 200,000 Catholics are reportedly traveling to state capital Yangon from all over the country by plane, train and car for the Pope’s open-air mass on Wednesday.
Reference Channel NewsAsia and CBS News
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