Mohammed is one of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled into Bangladesh after the Myanmar army launched a vicious “clearance operation” in August 2017. Soldiers raped, killed, and torched their way through Rakhine state, home to the vast majority of Rohingya, committing what the UN and many others have called crimes against humanity and possibly even genocide.
But while Mohammed witnessed unimaginable violence and destruction before fleeing across the border, he is also keenly aware of other threats to his community’s future – not least a lack of access to education. Before fleeing into Bangladesh, Mohammed’s opportunities to attend school had become increasingly limited in Myanmar, as authorities started segregating Muslim and Buddhist children following violence in 2012. In the relative safety of Bangladesh, meanwhile, Mohammed has become one of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children who are being denied formal schooling opportunities, to a large extent because of restrictions imposed by the Bangladeshi government.
The lack of access to education for Rohingya on both sides of the Naf – the river separating Myanmar and Bangladesh – is threatening to create a lost generation of Rohingya children. This month, the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK launched a new report spotlighting this hidden crisis, while calling on the world to take action as soon as possible. As Mohammad himself told us: “If you want to harm a community you don’t need to kill them. Just don’t let them study.”
Inside Myanmar, Rohingya have faced a debilitating and state-sponsored system of discrimination for decades. This has included denying Rohingya citizenship and the rights associated with it, as well as imposing serious restrictions on their freedom of movement. Across large parts of Rakhine state, Rohingya need to obtain permission to travel to towns or even to leave their villages, meaning that access to opportunities to make a living or gain an education are scarce.
To donate and contribute to Rohingya refugees and Rohingya students, please go to www.allmercy.org
These restrictions are not new, but have been part of the daily reality for Rohingya for generations. They form the more subtle part of the genocide the Myanmar authorities are subjecting Rohingya too. But the discrimination in Rakhine State serves the same purpose as the military’s violence that grabbed international headlines in 2017 – to make life for Rohingya so unbearable that we see no option but to leave. I myself, for example, felt compelled to flee Rakhine state in the mid-1990s when the Myanmar government prevented me from attending university simply because I was Rohingya.
Apr 10, 2019Along the edge of the largest camp sheltering Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, hundreds of men and women with shovels and wicker baskets are turning a barren hill into a parking lot-sized plateau. The newly leveled land will eventually hold new stronger shelters for refugees from overcrowded parts of the camps. Under the direction of engineers […]
Mar 22, 2019
Mar 21, 2019