How many people in Myanmar speak Bengali

Observers sound the alarm: According to local human rights activists, "systematic repression" of Muslims in Myanmar is no longer limited to the Rohingya minority in Rakhine.

The persecution of Muslims is supported by the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, parts of the Buddhist clergy, ultra-nationalist groups and the army, according to a report by the Burma Human Rights Network presented in Bangkok on Tuesday.

Muslims as foreign bodies

The transition to democracy has made it possible for government policy "to be influenced by popular prejudice and reinforce dangerous narratives that portray Muslims as foreign bodies in the predominantly Buddhist Burma," said the director of the Burmese network, the Muslim Kyaw Win. Muslims are seen as people of "mixed blood" - that is, they do not belong to one of the officially recognized ethnic groups - and thus as citizens "at best second class".

Kyaw Win spoke of "systematic" restrictions on religious freedom for Muslims. These ranged from official blockades for repairs to mosques to the prohibition of religious ceremonies. In Rakhine, the government and army apparently pursued the goal of locking the Rohingya in ghettos and isolating them from the outside world.

High expectations of the Pope's visit

The Muslims and especially the Rohingya in Myanmar are looking forward to Pope Francis' visit at the end of November with high expectations, he told the Catholic News Agency (KNA). He could make it clear to the international community that "the killing must stop immediately".

Meanwhile, the predominantly Islamic Indonesia announced that it would mediate in the Rohingya conflict. This was agreed at a meeting with Myanmar's State Councilor Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyidaw, the Indonesian government-affiliated news agency Antara said. The goals are the restoration of security and stability in Rakhine, the greatest reluctance to use force, the protection of all citizens regardless of religious affiliation and job opportunities for international humanitarian aid organizations.

The treatment of the Rohingya has already led to demonstrations in Indonesia. Strangers attacked Myanmar's embassy in Jakarta with Molotov cocktails. Protesters called on Suu Kyi to return her Nobel Peace Prize.

UN refugee agency UNHCR worried

Since October 2016, the Myanmar army has been cracking down on the Rohingya for alleged attacks on border posts. Human rights organizations report violence against women and children and the burning of villages by the Myanmar army. State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi and the military deny allegations of human rights violations.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR expressed concern in Geneva on Tuesday. An estimated 123,000 refugees have arrived since the violence broke out in the north of the state of Rakhine in Bangladesh. Many are exhausted from the days of flight through jungles, rivers and over mountains. The refugee camps in Kutupalong and Nayapara are overcrowded.

The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Christos Stylianides warned of a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Myanmar. The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) called on the USA and the EU to push harder for human rights for the Rohingya. Only international pressure can stop the spiral of violence in the Southeast Asian country. The GfbV warned of a massive loss of reputation for the EU in the Muslim world.