Officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs have approached Cardinal Charles Bo to request that he not use the word Rohingya in the presence of Pope Francis.
Myanmar’s first Cardinal is flying to Rome on 1 October for the month of the Holy Rosary held in Vatican City.
“The Religious Minister wanted to meet me but so far I haven’t met him, only a few members who recently came to meet me regarding the term of ‘Rohingya’ persons. They requested me not to use the term Rohingya in front of Pope Francis,” Cardinal Charles Bo told Mizzima News.
“If the word Rohingya is used it means the people understand that they are citizens of Rahkine State, that is the interpretation they would not like. Just [to use] the [term] Bengali or the Muslim from Rahkine State,”
“So, the situation there is very crucial, I think we have to solve this problem before it becomes too prolonged, before there is more violence and also the worry of international terrorism and other things.”
When asked if he would use the term in front of Pope Francis he said he would use “Rohingya to indicate [the issue]” but would address the people as Muslim’s from Rahkine state because of the sensitivity of the subject.
He said he will refuse to use the term “Bengali” as some of those who identify as Rohingya, their families have been in the region for over a century.
Myanmar’s government in the past has worked hard to prevent the use of the word, with government officials scolding UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon for using the word in December 2014 after usingit at the ASEAN summit held in Naypyitaw.
Read the whole interview in next week’s Mizzima Weekly Magazine.