Arkam, a 12 year old Rohingya boy, watched his father being slaughtered with a knife and had bricks thrown at his head, while he stood there, frozen, unable to do anything, according to The Economist. The family had been coming home from a mosque in Rakhine when a gang of men stopped them in their tracks. This murder was claimed to be a punishment for practicing their faith. This story is just one example of the many Muslims in Myanmar suffering daily with these types of violent assaults. To be more precise - one million. One million is the number of Rohingya people in Myanmar living in harsh and unlivable conditions which deteriorate every day.
The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim group of people living as a minority to the Buddhist-dominated Rakhine state. They have been denied citizenship to the country, and are being forced to leave their home country, desperately trying to seek refuge in neighboring countries. The lack of the Rohingya people’s citizenship prevents them from many rights; the right to study, work, travel, marry, practice religion or access national health services. The people of Rohingya deserve to live in stable, suitable conditions and denying them of this prevents them from their basic human rights. How could anyone be so cruel as to deny people of what they deserve as a human being?
The Rohingya crisis is still an ongoing situation that needs our attention. Hundreds of Muslims are dying every day, and thousands of homes being burned down. We, as a community need to partake in efforts to provide the Rohingya people with the quality of life and human rights that every human being alive deserves in this world.
Flying to Myanmar for this year's SEASAC Model United Nations (MUN) conference from the 2-5 March 2017, our group of thirteen Grade 9 students were nervous, yet excited to participate in the conference hosted by The International School Yangon (ISY) in Myanmar.
Being part of the Human Rights Committee in this conference, the situation of the Rohingya people seemed like one of the most logical current issues that needed to be reviewed. Though in Myanmar, we were surprised to discover that we were prohibited from discussing this issue, as it was not allowed to be openly talked about. Our school was most shocked by this, as Myanmar is in the throes of a massive crisis, and at a Model United Nations, a conference designed around discussing international relations and diplomacy, we were unable to debate one of the most pressing issues of our world today.
With seven unique committees, nine participating schools and over 150 students, this conference was a great success. Three days of exceptional debate about interesting and dire world problems made the weekend go by so fast, and we were all upset it was over. Saying goodbye to all the friends we made during the weekend was a hard thing to do. In such a short amount of time, we had managed become so close, forming bonds over our dedication to a topic and love for a good debate.
This conference didn't only give me the opportunity to discuss issues that I am passionate about, it was also an enlightening experience as I was able to share my experience with other students from all over Asia who were equally invested in attempting to resolve world issues. Over the three days, we had many fruitful, fervent yet energetic disputes that ended with a conclusion that satisfied (almost!) all delegates.
Overall, this conference gave all of us present an opportunity to expand our minds and freely voice our opinions. From the moment we stepped into that classroom, we knew MUN was something we never wanted to give up. The heart wrenching moments of negotiation and crisis, conflict and resolution - were the moments we all longed for, to help us make a difference in society.