Respect the rights of all groups, pope tells Myanmar’s leaders

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (CNS) — The plight of the ethnic Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state was front and center in speeches by Pope Francis and Aung San Suu Kyi, but neither publicly used the word Rohingya.
After private meetings Nov. 28 with Myanmarese President Htin Kyaw and Suu Kyi, the state counselor and de facto head of government, the pope and Suu Kyi gave formal speeches to government officials and diplomats gathered at the convention center in Naypyitaw, the nation’s capital.
Suu Kyi, leader of the process to bring democracy to Myanmar and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, publicly acknowledged, “Of the many challenges that our government has been facing, the situation in Rakhine has most strongly captured the attention of the world. As we address long-standing issues — social, economic and political — that have eroded trust and understanding, harmony and cooperation between different communities in Rakhine, the support of our people and of good friends who only wish to see us succeed in our endeavors has been invaluable.”
“The road to peace is not always smooth,” she told the pope, “but it is the only way that will lead our people to their dream of a just and prosperous land that will be their refuge, their pride, their joy.”
In his speech, Pope Francis was even less specific, although he repeatedly insisted that the rights of each member of society and each ethnic group must be respected.