His Holiness, Pope Francis
00120 Vatican City
Caro Santo Padre,
On behalf of the European Rohingya Council (ERC), we are writing this letter in order to ask your Holiness to include us in your prayers and in your thoughts. We are a group of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority of Myanmar, who have fled massacre and persecution. We are advocating for the rights and the religious freedom of all the ethnic minorities in Myanmar.
The Rohingya Muslim community of Myanmar is considered by UN as one of the most persecuted and threatened minorities of the world; since decades we are victim of systematic, persistent and widespread human rights violations including restriction on education, marriage and religion, sexual abuses, forced labour, arbitrary arrests, tortures and killings. Since June 2012, an escalation of violence and religious hatred against our peoples in Myanmar, leaving a trail of blood and a culture of terror and fear. The lack of protection from the Government and the denial of citizenship are affecting lives of entire community. We are not allowed to move freely, to associate, to build a family, to have a job and most importantly to live in our own country where we have lived for centuries. For these reasons more than 145,000 Rohingya are living in subhuman IDPs camps across the country and up to 35,000 have already fled Myanmar in search of a safe place. The search of a better place to live has a bitter taste when one are leave own homeland, besides the situation of the refugees and asylum seekers is depreciable. The journey to neighbouring countries is dangerous both by sea and land as migrants become easy prey for human traffickers, criminals and exploiters. The Rohingya peoples are not an exception; women are often abused and sold to sex traffickers while men are beaten to death are sold as slaves.
We share our plight with the Christian community of Myanmar who, despite being recognized as Myanmar citizens, are persecuted and killed for their faith. The Kachin Christians of north Myanmar are persecuted and tortured daily basis by Buddhist military, while in the Chin State experiencing similar problem. In Karen state the situation is not yet better, churches are burned down and Buddhist propaganda is often played during Christian services. Unfortunately, even in this case the Government does not intervene, leaving the Christian minority to suffer.
We are aware that Myanmar has taken important steps towards democracy and human rights although the road to democracy is long but no government can afford to gain the democracy without recognizing the religious freedom which the a core element of democracy. For these reasons and for peace among peoples, we beg you Holy Father to include us in your prayers and thoughts as we will include you in ours and to recall the importance of inter-religious peace and harmony in Myanmar.
May God bless your Holiness.
Chairman of the European Rohingya Council (ERC)
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