Pope Fran­cis’ visit to high­light coun­try’s deep re­li­gious rift

Southeast Asia Globe - - Panorama -

Pope Fran­cis’ up­com­ing visit to Myan­mar in Novem­ber could thrust the na­tion’s deep re­li­gious di­vi­sions into the in­ter­na­tional spotlight at a time when Aung San Suu Kyi’s Na­tional League for Democ­racy is rapidly run­ning out of good­will on the world stage. “One of the few cor­rect things that the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship did was to ar­rest and im­prison [Bud­dhist ex­trem­ist] Wi­rathu for in­sti­gat­ing vi­o­lence – it’s time for them to un­der­take a re­peat per­for­mance,” Hu­man Rights Watch Asia Di­vi­sion deputy di­rec­tor Phil Robert­son said. “The Burmese peo­ple should recog­nise that even if only a few hard­lin­ers come out and protest against the Pope be­cause he raises is­sues of re­li­gious free­dom, or uses the word ‘Ro­hingya’ as he should do, then Myan­mar will suf­fer se­ri­ous dam­age in the eyes of the world com­mu­nity who may start see­ing the coun­try as un­safe for tourists to go or for­eign in­vestors to do busi­ness.”

Pope Fran­cis with Aung San Suu Kyi in Vat­i­can City in May 2017

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