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Ramisha Hassan

Professor Malcolm Campbell

UWRT 1104

23 September 2017

Topic Proposal: The Run of a Refugee's Life

Introduction/Overview

I will be examining the oppressive Rohingya genocide that has been ongoing for the past

decade in Myanmar and has led more than 500,000 refugees fleeing their homeland to seek

asylum. According to Phillips from The World's Blindspot: Shedding Light on the Persecuted

the Rohingya are considered the worlds most persecuted minority. They are a stateless muslim

minority ethnic group who for many decades have lived in the majority Buddhist Rakhine state

of Myanmar but are now escaping from their government. Because of their Islamic faith, they

have been denied citizenship to the state unlike the other 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar - leaving

one million people without a place to call home. Hundreds of years ago during the British rule

many people from Bangladesh migrated over to the Rakhine state in Myanmar, and now-

decades later, their government deems them as illegal immigrants and claims that the Rohingya

are Bengali because they originally migrated from there. These innocent people have lived in

Myanmar their entire lives and are now being denied their right to education, work, land,

property, movement, etc. by their own government. The higher authority of Myanmar has

attempted to hide this tragedy from the common eye and has kept journalists from spreading

information about their involvement in the crisis; causing a lack of international coverage.
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However, according to Bauer, in Myanmar: Who are the Rohingya?, Jazeera publishes the

truth and explains that since August, almost 20,000 refugees a day have run to seek refuge from

the destructive government/military forces and their demolished homes. Almost half of their

homes have been completely tarnished by the governments orders leaving them with no choice

but to escape the violence to neighboring country, Bangladesh. Although Bangladesh has been

helpful in keeping their borders open and aiding the refugees in all means, they are a densely

populated and underdeveloped country themselves. It could only be a matter of time until

Bangladesh can no longer take more refugees which is why refugees are fleeing to other places

like Malaysia and Laos.

The most popular genocides that a majority of people have heard of are the Rwandan

genocide and the Holocaust. In the article Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and

Politicides, Harff explains that genocides are the promotion and execution of policies by a state

that results in the deaths of a group of people. People may not have begun to call what is

happening in Myanmar a genocide but as shocking as it is; the Rohingya refugees who are

trapped in statelessness can very well be compared to the terrifying events that the Rwandans

and Germans went through. The Human Rights Watch claims that the UN has persistently

published that Myanmars military treatment of the Rohingya is of concern and are crimes

against humanity that must be condemned. This mistreatment consists of homes being destroyed,

men being beheaded, women being raped, children being kidnapped and all muslim people

forced out of their homes. Although there has not been much international coverage and

awareness/aid has been minimal; some countries and organizations have helped the refugees with
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basic needs. In UNICEF Emergency Supplies for Rohingya Refugee Children Arrive in

Bangladesh, it states that Copenhagen has arrived to the capital of Bangladesh with 100 tonnes

of supplies, comprising water purifying tablets, family hygiene kits, sanitary materials, plastic

tarpaulins, recreational kits for children, and other items. While the refugees are desperate for

help this urgent assistance from other countries is exactly what should be done to ensure their

safety. To put it into perspective- imagine living your entire life in North Carolina and then the

government tells you that you are not a citizen of the U.S. and blows up your neighborhood

leaving you with no choice but to run and seek protection in Mexico. What if Mexicos president

made a policy that refugees from the U.S. are not allowed inside their country to seek refuge?

Society and higher authority must put themselves in the shoes of the Rohingya people when

comprehending the depth of scrutiny refugees go through when facing unfortunate circumstances

like these.

For my preliminary research I used google scholar for journal articles and excerpts from

books about general ideas on my topic. I found helpful articles that I could filter from as late as

2013 up until today to get the most recent information. After doing some basic research on my

topic I wanted to get more specific stories so I went on to look at the library databases that UNC

Charlotte offers. One of the databases I have become very familiar with is called JSTOR which

had articles that focused on how unaware people around the world are and shedding light on the

refugees. Lastly, Newspaper Source Plus had articles from this year about the tears and anguish

of the Rohingya people from an interview that a man had with a refugee when he flew to

Bangladesh to witness the conditions. Aside from the articles I read, my brother gave me the idea

to write about the Rohingya crisis because I wanted to write about refugees, however I was
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aware of how broad my topic of interest was. He brought up the Rohingya refugees which I had

not heard much of prior, so he got me interested enough to want to do my own research and find

out as much as I could about their story.

My researching process not only helped me learn more about my topic but made me ask

questions that I wouldnt have asked before if I didnt continue to read and learn more specific

details on the issue. If I never read about Myanmars military actions I wouldnt have asked

myself how they get away with their mistreatment and looked into that more as well, researching

is like a domino effect and has definitely made my understanding of the topic much more

centered. I would hope that all countries and their people realize what is happening in Myanmar

is unacceptable and do anything they can to help the people who have been ripped apart from

their loved ones. If I had to find two sides to this issue it would be the humane side that realizes

the Rohingya people should be considered a part of the state and be allowed back home in peace

without violence and fear intruding their lives. The other side is for these malicious and harmful

conditions to continue and for refugees to run for their lives in hopes of food, shelter, clothes,

and life.

Initial Inquiry Question (s)

How can the Rohingya refugees be helped? Will Bangladesh be able to contain all of these

refugees for as long as the Rohingya need it? Is it possible that Myanmar will realize what

theyre doing is unacceptable and allow the people back in? Why has race and religion played

such an intense and often malicious role in the lives of minorities? Is it possible for these issues

to be prevented if the government is the one encouraging it? Should the human rights council

plan a strong resolution to help support the genocide in Myanmar? After teaching and learning
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the effects of a genocide, why does it still occur today? Should the Rohingya be kicked out of

their country for not being citizens or do they belong to Myanmar like the other 135 groups?

Should ethnic and religious conflicts be of enough importance to distinguish people among each

other? Is the term genocide too limited to interpretation or can it be used to characterize the

violence towards the Rohingya people?

My Interest in this Topic

I am interested in the Rohingya refugees because as an empathetic person, when I put myself in

the shoes of a refugee I cannot begin to explain all of the questions and curiosity that come with

it. Refugees are a big part of the world and society we live in today especially with new policies

being put into place with presidential candidates. There have been many controversial questions

and topics about whether they should be allowed into the United States and I have always had a

firm stance that they deserve safety and protection. When you put yourself in the position of a

refugee it is impossible not to sit and think about how blessed you are and situations that make

you feel so deeply are worth taking time to learn more about. I cannot say I know everything

about the Rohingya refugees but as I continue to research Im learning more about an oppressive

governments control over people and how powerless they can become. It is easy to slip into the

darkness and be ignorant to all that is going around in the world but I think people should

collectively be more aware of situations like this hidden genocide.

Next Steps

I will further my research by visiting the librarys databases, searching recent articles on google

scholar and possibly watching documentaries on my topic. When I look on google scholar I
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always click as recent as 2013 so that the statistics I get are not too outdated. There is a

documentary that was released by Al Jazeera called The Hidden Genocide which gives a voice

to many of the refugees who fled the land where they were born. I read an article on a database

called HeinOnline that referenced this documentary many times and I plan to watch it in order to

get full insight from primary sources. I think I am on the right track with my research and finding

resources but I know I will find a lot more as my curiosity on this topic continues to expand.