Mawlamyine (Agenzia Fides) - "In the ongoing crisis in the state of Rakhine, it is urgent to show humanity. We launch a humanity appeal to both sides: the military and Rohingya guerrillas. We must respect and build a future of peace and justice based on the respect of human rights. Let us remember that during the dictatorship period, all ethnic minorities in Burma were marginalized and penalized. We now want a change of approach from the government and steps have been taken in various areas of the country. Now in the state of Rakhine (in western Myanmar) there is a real armed conflict because the Rohingya have formed an army, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), and the issue has become complicated, it has become a problem of security": says to Agenzia Fides Bishop Raymond Saw Po Ray, who heads the diocese of Mawlamyine, and is president of the Justice and Peace Commission within the Bishops' Conference of Myanmar.
Since August 25th, there have been clashes in the Burmese State of Rakhine between the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an expression of the Muslim minority of Rohingya, and the military of Myanmar. The civilian population of the ethnic minority are suffering the consequences, and is moving towards Banglsdesh, in an uninterrupted flow. We are talking about 60,000 refugees in just a few days. But now Bangladesh opposes resistance in order to avoid another invasion of displaced persons in a country marked by poverty and overpopulation.
The Bishop tells Fides. "The Burmese Church, a small reality, continues to pray for peace and nourish a hope of reconciliation. In this sense, the Pope’s visit to Myanmar from 27 to 30 November appears well-timed and precious: the Pope will be an apostle of reconciliation. But it must be remembered that peace must be prepared with an approach that is not just centered on oneself but takes into account the needs and expectations of others".
"The Pope has spoken of the Rohingya" - continues Mgr. Raymond Saw Po Ray - and we hope that his appeal for peace will be welcomed by all parties in the fight. The word Rohingya remains a sensitive issue in the country, and the very use of the term 'Rohingya' is rather controversial if one reads their story. In this time, the government and military instead refer to the Rohingya, as “Bengalis”. For this reason, Myanmar Bishops have asked the Pope not to use Rohingya term in his messages of peace and respect for minorities".
Already since 1982, the Burmese military junta had promulgated a law on nationality which denied the Burmese nationality to the Rohingya: this ethnic minority of Islamic religion is not recognized by the state and is deprived of all rights. Violence occurred in the state in 2012 (an anti-Muslim campaign was promoted by a Buddhist extremist group) and then in October 2016 when, as a result of border disorder, a hunt was carried out for a man who had induced NGOs to talk about "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide". At the beginning of 2017, more than 30,000 refugees had been clumped in the Bengalese refugee camps. According to the report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, released on June 20th on the occasion of World Refugee Day, 490,000 Rohingyas have left their homes, during the years, and 276,000 of them are in Bangladesh. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 5/9/2017)