The BURDEN OF HOUSING REFUGEES: A Perspective from Rohingya Hosting Chittagong

September 27, 2018

Nearly one million Rohingyas from Myanmar’s Rakhine have become refugees in Bangladesh’s Chittagong. This refugee exodus derives from Myanmar’s domestic crisis with multiple dimensions: political power struggle, economic deprivation and communal conflict. Only the latter dimension (inter-ethnic and inter-religious tension) has dominated the narrative of the Rohingya exodus. This imbalanced narrative has far reaching consequences on the refugee hosting Chittagong region. It has challenged and continue to challenge the precarious ethno-diversity and religious harmony in the wider Chittagong area. This presentation warns that the delay in resolving the present Rohingya crisis may trigger another refugee-generating crisis by victimizing the non-Bengali and Buddhist minority living in Chittagong. This observation, made after a month long visit to Rohingya refugee hosting Chittagong, highlights the urgent need for international intervention so that the Rohingya refugees are repatriated in timely fashion to stop another humanitarian crisis in the region.

D. Mitra Barua is the Annette and Hugh Gragg Postdoctoral Fellow in Transnational Asian Studies, Rice University's Chao Center for Asian Studies, Texas. Mitra examines the contested history of the North Bay of Bengal region crisscrossed by three national boundaries: India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. With a focus on the Buddhist-Muslim relationship in the Chittagong-Rakhine area, he investigates how a linguistically diverse, culturally tolerant and religiously syncretic society has been plagued by ethnic and religious bigotry, intolerance and violence. This investigation is an extension of Mitra’s ongoing project on the history of Buddhism in extended Bengal. Prior to his affiliation to Rice, he taught and conducted research on Asian religions at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and Cornell University. His forthcoming monograph, Seeding Buddhism with Multiculturalism (the McGill and Queen University Press, Kingston, Canada) discusses the intercultural and intergenerational transmission of Buddhist beliefs and practices among Sri Lankan immigrants in Toronto, Canada.

SPONSORS

  • SFU David Lam Centre
  • Department of Humanities
  • School for International Studies
  • Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies

Date
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Time
6:00 - 7:30pm

Location
SFU Harbour Centre
Room 1400 Segal Centre
515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver

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