In what has been described as ethnic cleansing, more than 800,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar’s western Rakhine State to seek refuge from persecution. Many have died in the exodus, which began following clashes between Rohingya militant groups and the Myanmar military in August 2017. With refugee camps lacking adequate infrastructure and resources, disease incidence and exploitation are high, creating a “human rights nightmare”.
How did this crisis emerge? What is the role of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi? How are refugees being cared for in Bangladesh? What are the prospects for peace in Rakhine state and a repatriation of refugees? How can Canada help deal with the Rohingya crisis? The roundtable brings together several scholars to discuss these and other questions related to the crisis.
Mohammad Zaman (Independent Consultant), Kai Ostwald (Political Science & SPPGA, UBC), Douglas Ober (CISAR, UBC), Sara Shneiderman (Anthropology & SPPGA, UBC), Theressa Etmanski (Law, UVic)
Dr. Mohammad Zaman will speak about issues related to repatriation and resettlement of the refugees.
Assistant Prof. Kai Ostwald holds a joint appointment at the Department of Political Science and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs. He has worked extensively in Myanmar, alongside International Development and Research Canada, promoting development in the region. He will provide a contextual background on Myanmar’s post-election political climate, in particular, the tenuous power-sharing arrangement between the military and the civilian government – not intended as an explanation of why the crisis has broken out, but rather as depiction of the conditions that have allowed it to occur.
Dr. Douglas Ober is a Research Associate in the Centre for India and South Asia Research (CISAR) at UBC. He holds a PhD from the Department of Asian Studies at UBC and writes on Buddhist movements in colonial and postcolonial Asia. He was conducting research in Rakhine state (Arakan), Myanmar, this past summer when the Rohingya conflict was reignited. He will speak on Rakhine history and historiography, Rakhine Buddhists and Buddhist nationalism.
Sara Shneiderman is Associate Professor at UBC in Anthropology and the School of Public Policy & Global Affairs. She has written extensively on borders, citizenship, and statelessness in South Asia. She is our moderator for the event.
Theressa Etmanski is a Canadian lawyer who has worked on human rights in Myanmar and border region. She is currently a LLM candidate at UVic, where her research focuses on sexual violence amid the Rohingya crisis. She will cover the sexual and gender-based violence being committed by the Tatmadaw against Rohingya women.