Monday, October 9, 2017

The Myanmar Rohingya Refugee Crisis Affects Us All

A Rohingya dad cries for his dead son after fleeing to Bangladesh by crossing the Naf River from Myanmar
Photo courtesy: The Daily Star, Dhaka

Make-shift shelters Rohingya shelters on the hills of Balukhali in south-east Bangladesh
Photo courtesy:

The Rohingyas, an Indo-Aryan ethnic group of Muslims living in the Rakhine State of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), since last August, are being hunted down by the Myanmar army and their Buddhist civilian accomplices. These people -- facing beheadings, deadly physical attacks including rapes, and burning down of their houses and belongings – began to flee mainly to Bangladesh. So far, their number has risen to more than 500,000.
The government of Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingyas as their citizens, who are living there as stateless persons. They also don’t have the status of one of the government-recognized ethnic minority groups in the country. The Rohingyas have been victims of sporadic attacks in the last few decades, but widespread and organized government-supported attacks took place in the last 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The United Nations and many other countries, including Bangladesh and Canada, have condemned these attacks and persecutions and asked Myanmar government to take proper action to stop these killings and deportations.

According to the Vatican Radio, Pope Francis, on August 27, speaking to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, said: “Sad news has reached us of the persecution of our Rohingya brothers and sisters, a religious minority. I would like to express my full closeness to them – and let all of us ask the Lord to save them, and to raise up men and women of good will to help them, who shall give them their full rights.”

According to the Catholic News Agency, Pope Francis to a general audience on February 8 this year said: “I would like to pray with you today in a special way for our brother and sister Rohingya. They were driven out of Myanmar, they go from one place to another and no one wants them.”  He further said: “They are good people, peaceful people, they aren’t Christians, but they are good. They are our brothers and sisters. And they have suffered for years,” he said, noting that often times members of the ethnic minority have been “tortured and killed” simply for carrying forward their traditions and Muslim faith. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Myanmar on November 27 - 30 and Bangladesh on November 30 - December 2 this year. 

Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario, C.S.C., of Dhaka, Bangladesh, in a statement on September 20, 2017, said: "The humanity is under attack in different places of the world by different peoples.... yet the humanity is not totally finished. Its bright example is Bangladesh that has come forward in protecting the Rohingyas in the country. Bangladesh, not only opened its border for the Rohingyas, it has opened its heart to thousands of children, women, the elderly, the sick, the wounded, and babies in the wombs. It is as if the humanitarian maternity of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and its people. 

He further said: "We thank Pope Francis for his constant support toward the suffering Rohingyas. He is with us, too. We also thank Caritas International and other non-government agencies that are determined to be beside these people by extending their assistance through Caritas Bangladesh...The prayers of Bangladesh Church will always be with these suffering people."

To know more on the events and issues, please click on the following: 

Background Information on the Rohingyas of Myanmar:

(Updated  on Oct. 10, 2017)

Bookmark and Share