HRW: Bangladesh denying education to 400,000 Rohingya children
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the Bangladeshi government has been depriving nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslim refugee children in the South Asian country of the right to education.
The US-based rights group made the announcement in an 81-page report, titled “‘Are We Not Human?’: Denial of Education for Rohingya Refugee Children in Bangladesh,” released on Tuesday. The report has been compiled based on interviews with teachers, aid workers, government officials, and more than 150 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Following a military-led crackdown starting in 2016 that the United Nations has said was perpetrated with “genocidal intent,” more than 730,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority fled Myanmar’s northwestern state of Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh. They were largely camped in the country’s southern district of Cox’s Bazar in squalid conditions.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017.
“Bangladesh has made it clear that it doesn’t want the Rohingya to remain indefinitely, but depriving children of education just compounds the harm to the children and won’t resolve the refugees’ plight any faster,” said Bill Van Esveld, HRW associate children’s rights director.
According to the report, Dhaka has never allowed the Rohingya children access to formal, accredited education, and it has barred aids groups from using even an existing, informal version of the Bangladeshi curriculum in the camps, arguing that these refugees will go back to Buddhist-majority Myanmar “within two years.”
It added that the Bangladeshi government’s insistence that the refugees return to Myanmar had led it to ban humanitarian groups from building permanent, brick-and-mortar school structures in the refugee camps.
“Persisting with the ban on formal education is harmful to Bangladesh’s own interests and devastating for a new generation of Rohingya children and the future of the Rohingya community as a whole,” the HRW report further said.
The rights group also called on Dhaka to immediately approve and support the use of its curriculum in the camps, stressing that Bangladesh should let aid groups provide quality education, including through the formal Bangladeshi and Myanmarese curricula, to the refugee children.
Rohingya Muslims, recognized by the UN as the world’s most persecuted minority group, are denied Myanmarese citizenship as the country’s leadership brands them illegal immigrants from Bangladeshi, which, for its part, says they are from Myanmar.