YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar has restricted international media coverage of the Pope’s four-day visit to the country citing security concerns, Church sources said Sunday.
Mariano Naing, spokesperson for the local Roman Catholic Church, told reporters that the international media will not be allowed to cover the arrival of Pope Francis at the airport in Yangon on Monday.
They will also not be able to cover the official welcome of the Pope by Aung San Suu Kyi – the de-facto leader of the country – in Naypyidaw on Tuesday, and the Pope’s meeting with local religious leaders.
These events will be exclusively covered by Myanmar’s state media owing to security restrictions, Naing said.
The Pope’s visit to Myanmar is politically sensitive as it comes amid an unresolved humanitarian crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, a Muslim minority community, fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh to escape a military offensive in the Rakhine state in western Myanmar.
The offensive, that the UNHCR described as ethnic cleansing, has been globally condemned for its human rights abuses, including loot, rape and murders, and since Aug. 25 has led to 620,000 Rohingyas to seek refuge in Bangladesh.
The Pope will visit Bangladesh after Myanmar, which has led to speculation that he might be looking to mediate in the crisis.