Friday 8 September 2017

Rohingya Crisis: Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
                                Media and Communications Office

The Rohingya Crisis
Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

8 September 2017 

Chilling reports are emerging of the murder, rape and massacre of the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar, and these are a cause for great alarm and concern. 

According to those reports, well over 250,000 women, men and children within the Rohingya community have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh in the past two weeks as a result of violence and conflict. Sources state that Rohingya Muslims are denied citizenship in their country, and the persecution they face is not new, but has been occurring for years.            

This disturbing news falls on the all too familiar backdrop of the ongoing refugee crisis which continues to plague millions of people fleeing religious persecution, violence and turmoil in the Middle East, as well as the countless people in places such as Nigeria, Sudan, North Korea and others, who face religious persecution on a daily basis as part of their daily existence.  

As an international community, we must never remain silent in the face of the suffering of those whose basic God-given rights and freedoms are denied, even if those people are thousands of miles away. What is unfortunate, is that these issues often remain in our minds only as long as they frequent our news feeds, and yet the suffering continues whether we acknowledge it or not. In the case of the Rohingya Muslims and the Kachin Christians in Burma, it seems that this situation is ongoing, and by no means recent, but has only made international headlines due to the heightened level of violence and suffering. 

All human suffering is worthy of our attention, and should not be ignored until it is unbearable or seemingly intolerable. In Scripture, Christians are instructed to “Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Psalm 82:3), a task that is ever more needed not just oversees, but often in our immediate families and communities. 

We pray for the safety of all who flee conflict in our world today, for the Rohingya Muslim community as they flee their home country, and for those who seek to find ways to accommodate them and others seeking refuge from persecution around the world. We also pray for governments and all in authority to adhere to and safeguard the basic principles of human rights and freedoms that God has bestowed upon us and entrusted us with, and that our humanity has prided itself on for generations.