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Reacting to the remarks by Pope Francis during his visit to Myanmar today, Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for South East Asia and the Pacific, said:

“While it is disappointing that Pope Francis did not use the word Rohingya during his speech in Myanmar today, his calls for respect for all ethnic groups and an inclusive society are welcome. Pope Francis’ visit has also helped focus international attention on Myanmar and the horrific crimes being carried out against the Rohingya people on a daily basis by Myanmar authorities.

“The real scandal of the visit was the insistence of Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing that ‘there is no discrimination between ethnic groups in Myanmar.’ The Myanmar authorities have trapped Rohingya in a system of repression and segregation that amounts to the crime against humanity of apartheid. Myanmar’s security forces, which Senior General Min Aung Hlaing commands, have also carried out a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya in recent months.

“Other ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar are also discriminated against and face wide-ranging human rights violations at the hands of the military. These violations must stop, all ethnic groups must see their rights respected and the perpetrators held to account – regardless of their rank or position. This is what the focus of the international community must be on.”