Pope to Meet Head of Myanmar Army and Rohingya Refugees: Vatican


NOVEMBER 23, 2017

Vatican City. Pope Francis will meet the head of Myanmar's army on a visit to the country and Rohingya refugees while he is in Bangladesh, both late additions to his tour of the two countries next week.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, briefing reporters on the trip, said that he would meet the head of the army, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, on the morning of Nov. 30 in a church residence in Yangon.

Myanmar Cardinal Charles Maung Bo had talks with the pope in Rome on Saturday (18/11) and suggested that he add a meeting with the general to the schedule. Both the pope and the general agreed.

Human rights monitors have accused Myanmar's military of atrocities, including mass rape, against the stateless Rohingya during so-called clearance operations following insurgent attacks on 30 police posts and an army base.

Myanmar's government has denied most of the claims, and the army last week said its own investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing by troops.

The pope will separately meet the country's defacto civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyitaw, on Nov. 28 in an encounter that was already on the schedule.

Burke said that a "a small group" of Rohingya refugees will be present at an inter-religious meeting for peace in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka on the afternoon of Friday, Dec 1.

He gave no details of how they would be chosen.

Both events were not on the original schedule of the trip of the Nov. 26-Dec. 2 trip.

Some 600,000 Rohingya refugees, most of them Muslim and from Myanmar's northern Rakhine state, have fled to Bangladesh.