Posted by Pieter Taljaard
Fozia Alvi is a family physician in Airdrie and volunteers with ICNA Relief Canada in refugee camps in Bangladesh for Myanmar’s displaced Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority. Based on what she has learned firsthand, she is of the opinion that the treatment of this nation is a genocidal program. The Rohingya people’s medical need is great, but their plight much bigger. She spoke to the Rotary Club of Airdrie.
Conditions on the ground shook her. Most of the camps’ inhabitants were victims of assault or sexual violence, unsure if they’d been the lucky ones to still be breathing. As a woman, as a doctor and as a mother, she is horrified at the plight of this community of hundreds of thousands of traumatized survivors of murder, rape, torture, sexual slavery, persecution and enslavement, in a makeshift refugee camp, trapped by geography and political deadlock.
Since 1962 the Myanmar government policy was to systematically isolate the Rohingya population, deny them secondary education, deny them their own crops, deny them access to hospitals, deny them the ability to get middle-class jobs, deny them marriage licences, even deny them the ability to turn on lights after sunset, with the intent that the Rohingya would leave of their own accord. When this failed against their resilience, the active violence was started causing desperate survivors to flee.
Canada – with our reputation for generally being on the right side of history – what will we do about it? Dr Alvi called on the members of the Rotary Club of Airdrie to be a voice for these people and speak out against what a UN fact-finding mission recently concluded as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Dr Alvi also started a Foundation to continue work in the camps.