Cardinal Charles Bo, an eminent religious figure hailing from Myanmar, predicts that around 600,000 of the Rohingya Muslim minority will likely not return to their home country. This is partly due to a Buddhist majority that will refuse to live side by side with them because of toxic propaganda, and partly due to the fearsome experiences the Rohingya have suffered.
Bo says that it is imperative for the international community to solve this situation for a “stateless” people that “the world does not want.”
“The international community must step up, and not just leave it to Bangladesh or Myanmar,” Bo, the cardinal of Myanmar’s national capital Yangon, told Cruxnow.com on Friday. The Buddhist majority in Myanmar would not accept the Rohingyas coming back because the Myanmar community has been "poisoned by propaganda and hate speech,” he said.
“Moreover, a lot of these people don’t wish to come back because of trauma and they don’t feel safe to return,” he continued.
Describing the stance on Rohingyas in Myanmar, Bo referred to a recent quote taken from the speech of a local MP.
“A mere two days ago, a Myanmar MP stated that Rohingyas were not a part of the 135 ethnic groups in the country,” he said.
Bo made these comments to during a meeting of the “Santa Marta Group” at the Vatican – a group that creates collaborations between police officials and Catholic activists, primarily religious women, to fight the problem of human trafficking.
He also mentioned that human trafficking was also a threat that befalls Rohingyas.
“The persecution they have been enduring has caused many of them to escape to Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia, with many of them falling into the hands of human traffickers in the process,” he said, “many of these escapees have died in smuggling boats that capsized,”
In another conversation with the Associated Press, Bo mentioned that the Rohingya had been victims of ethnic cleansing.
“These events are happening inside Myanmar,” he told Cruxnow.com. “We feel for the victims, and it should not be happening. ‘Rohingya’ is a very political term. I want to urge the global community to empathize with these stateless people.”
“About 600 children were born to these people on their way from Myanmar to Bangladesh,” Bo said. “This along with their poverty and their situation has put them in a desperate situation. The entire international community should focus on how to help these unfortunate people.”
Consistent with his stance of the past, Bo came to the defence of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and the “State Counsellor” of Myanmar, who has garnered plenty of international criticism for what is deemed as a failure to have a stronger stance regarding human rights, particularly on the Rohingyas.
“The Aung San Suu Kyi government faces the brunt of the blame, but I think the international community should put themselves in her shoes,” Bo said. “When military operations are involved, she has no constitutional right to prevent or alter their actions. She needs international support because she is the only person in Myanmar who has any hope of maintaining a democracy. If she is no longer there, things will go back to how it was before.”