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Don't overlook Myanmar victims

A Rohingya man carries his sick mother to a health clinic in Coxsbazar, Bangladesh. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 650,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar from violence over the last weeks and months.
A Rohingya man carries his sick mother to a health clinic in Coxsbazar, Bangladesh. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 650,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar from violence over the last weeks and months. (Abir Abdullah / EPA-EFE)

It’s significant that the article, “Pope demands rights for all in Myanmar, omits ‘Rohingya’” (Nov. 28), points to the pope timorously refraining from mentioning the Rohingya by name. The pope’s morally irresponsible omission of the word undermines the rest of his message of peace and forgiveness. As a moral authority, Pope Francis has a responsibility not to shy away from questions of profound social injustice but rather to hold people and governments in power fully to account for their policies.

This is not the time to genuflect to the niceties of unmerited diplomacy or etiquette. As it is, terms like “ethnic cleansing” are too sterile to capture the true brutality inflicted by Myanmar’s government upon its Muslim minority. At the very least, these acts against the Rohingya amount to crimes against humanity and should be dealt with accordingly. The pope should in full-throated fashion acknowledge that much, spurring global efforts to halt and, to the degree possible, undo the terrible harm already perpetrated. And, yes, to say the word ‘Rohingya.’

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Let’s not find ourselves looking back 10 years from now, lamenting yet again our inaction.

Keith Tidman, Bethesda

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