On Thursday, November 8, the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies will host a public forum “Ethnicity, Citizenship and Human Rights in Burma: The History and Plight of the Rohingya.” This will take place from 1-6 p.m. in the Heritage Room of the ACES Library, Information and Alumni Center, 1101 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana.
The Rohingya of Burma/Myanmar, a Muslim people who live in the Arakan region and speak a dialect of Bengali, are among the world’s most persecuted peoples. Successive Burmese governments have discriminated against the Rohingya, asserting that they are foreigners with no right to live in Burma, a view shared by much of the Arakan population. In 1982 a law excluded them from Burmese citizenship. Rohingya are not allowed to travel without official permission, are banned from owning land, and are required to sign a commitment not to have more than two children. Neighboring Bangladesh and Thailand have refused to allow Rohingya refugees into their countries. In June, tensions between the Rohingya and Rakhine peoples erupted into violence, as Rakhine and Rohingya mobs attacked homes, shops, and houses of worship. Both groups perpetrated violence, but it is noteworthy that Buddhist monks urged the Rakhine to attack the Rohingya and expel them from the country, and Burmese security forces joined in those attacks. This forum looks at the history and current situation of the Rohingya from a number of different perspectives.
This event is free and open to the public. Live streaming of the event will be shown on a big screen in Chicago at the Gallery of CAIR-Chicago, 28 E. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1700. It can be viewed online at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/csames-events.
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