Pope says 'Rohingya' for first time in public
DHAKA: Pope Francis asked for forgiveness on Friday from refugees in Bangladesh for all the hurt and indifference they have endured, demanded their rights be recognized and pronounced the word he had so assiduously avoided only days earlier in Myanmar: "Rohingya."
In a deeply moving encounter, Francis greeted and blessed a group of Rohingya Muslim refugees, grasping their hands and listening to their stories in a show of public solidarity amid Asia's worst refugee crisis in decades. He apologized for the "indifference of the world" to their plight and then pronounced the name of their ethnic group to a gathering of Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian leaders.
"The presence of God on Friday is also called 'Rohingya,"' he said. The 16 Rohingya— 12 men, two women and two young girls — had travelled to Dhaka from Cox's Bazar, the district bordering Myanmar where refugee camps are overflowing with more than 620,000 Rohingya who have fled what the UN says is a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Myanmar's military. The campaign has included the burning of Rohingya villages and fleeing Rohingya have described rape and shootings by Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist mobs that left them no option but to make the dangerous.