Source: Associated Press
By NICOLE WINFIELD
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Pope Francis opened a diplomatically fraught trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh on Monday by immediately diving into the crisis over Myanmar’s crackdown on Rohingya Muslims: He met with the country’s military chief, even before beginning the official program of his trip.
The Vatican didn’t provide details of the contents of Francis’ 15-minute “courtesy visit” with Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and three officials from the bureau of special operations. It took place in the residence of the archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Bo, who has resisted international condemnation of the military’s operations against Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing.”
The general is in charge of security in Rakhine state, where the military’s “clearance operations” against the Muslim minority have sent more than 620,000 Rohingya fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh. Refugees there have told of entire villages being burned and women and girls being raped.