‘Who is the pope?’ ask Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
COX’S BAZAR (BANGLADESH): The plight of Rohingya refugees is the backdrop to Pope Francis’ landmark go to to Myanmar and Bangladesh this week. However within the huge refugee camps on the border, there’s puzzlement, with many asking: “Who’s he?”
The top of the Catholic church has repeatedly spoken out in assist of the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority who’ve fled to Bangladesh of their lots of of 1000’s, bringing with them allegations of murders, rapes and arson dedicated by the Myanmar navy.
This week he met Myanmar’s chief Aung San Suu Kyi and military chief Min Aung Hlaing, who’s accused of overseeing brutal marketing campaign to drive out the group that the UN and US have labelled “ethnic cleaning”.
Together with his message of hope and tolerance, supporters hope the pope’s presence can tamp down the non secular and ethnic hatreds which have roiled the area.
But within the teeming Bangladeshi camps close to the border with Myanmar, point out of the pontiff drew clean faces and raised eyebrows.
Proven a photograph, refugees shrugged and guessed him to be anybody from a rich king or a celeb from the US to a Bangladeshi politician. Some mistook his zucchetto for an Islamic skullcap and stated he may very well be a Muslim chief.
“I believe I’ve seen him within the information however what does he do? Is he vital?” requested 42-year-old Nurul Qadar.
Pope Francis, who arrives in Bangladesh on Thursday from primarily Buddhist Myanmar, is the primary pontiff in 31 years to go to Bangladesh and has referred to as the Rohingya his “brothers and sisters”.
He isn’t because of go to the camps however will meet a small group of Rohingya refugees throughout an interfaith assembly in Dhaka on Friday.
Greater than 620,000 Rohingya have poured into the poor, overpopulated nation because the begin of a violent crackdown by the military in August.
They’re denied nearly all fundamental human rights in Myanmar together with the precise to practise their faith, journey and marry freely.
On studying of the pope’s position on the planet, refugees AFP spoke to stated they hoped Francis would be capable to dealer a cope with Myanmar that might pave the way in which for a protected return to their homeland.
Perhaps the federal government in Myanmar “would possibly truly take heed to him.” mused 40-year-old Mujibur Rahman.
Hassan Arraf, a Rohingya imam at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, and the one one out of dozens who knew of the pope, stated the Argentinian pontiff along with his man-of-the-people popularity had the ability to vary their lives.
Rohingya Muslim refugees close to Kutupalong refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar. (AFP pictures)
“The way in which they tortured us, no faith permits it. He’s a giant chief of one other faith however I consider he is a really smart man,” he informed AFP.
“I believe he’ll be capable to perceive what we went by means of. And he can ask the Myanmar authorities to resolve this matter and make the place peaceable.”
Caritas, the Catholic Church’s humanitarian arm which helps to feed 40,000 households within the camps, stated it hoped the pope’s go to would not less than assist carry the spirits of the neighborhood.
“He’s coming… as a logo of reconciliation. We hope his go to will bear a really constructive influence and create an excellent answer between the 2 international locations,” James Gomes, regional director of Caritas, informed AFP.
When given details about this unfamiliar robed determine, many refugees stated the pope ought to go to the squalid, overcrowded camps in southern Bangladesh to witness their struggling.
“If his go to is about us, then he ought to come right here to satisfy us and speak to us. He ought to see how we live, how we barely survived,” stated Hami Tusang as he queued for meals.
One other man behind him, Azim Ullah, stated he needed to “complain to the pope of the relentless torture we face in Rakhine”.
“Being such a giant chief, he have to be seeing what we have now been by means of. Each unhealthy factor you may consider has occurred to us,” he stated, making a reducing movement throughout his throat.
“He must be our bridge. He must demand our rights, our citizenship. In any other case there isn’t a level of such visits.”