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>> Pope Francis has defended his strategy of avoiding the term Rohingya in public in Myanmar. He urged respect for quote, each ethnic group and its identity during a speech in the South East Asia country last week, but avoided a diplomatic backlash by not using the highly charged word.
He told reporters board the Papal plane on Saturday he wanted to speak to both civilian and military leadership without shutting down dialogue.>> I was interested in my message getting through, so I saw that in my speech if I had used that word the door would had slammed shut.
But I describe the situation the rights that no one should be excluded from citizenship to allow me in my private meetings to go further. I was very, very satisfied with the discussions I was able to have.>> Pope Francis' trip was so delicate, local church officials had advised not to say Rohingya, because it could spark a backlash against Christians and other minority groups.
Instead, he strongly hinted he had used the word in private meetings. The predominantly Buddhist country doesn't recognize the mostly Muslim Rohingya as an ethnic group with its own identity, but as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. A violent military crack down in Myanmar has seen a mass exodus of more than 620,000 Rohingya.
Refugees say scores of their villages were burnt to the ground, people were killed and women raped. But the military denies accusations of ethnic cleansing. Pope Francis has defended the Rohingya by name twice from the Vatican earlier this year. But waited until he had left Myanmar and arrived in Bangladesh to use the term for the first time in Asia on Friday.
Francis ended the diplomatically tricky trip, seeking the forgiveness of Rohingya refugees.