The Rohingya crisis is ongoing, but few are aware of it beyond brief and disconnected news headlines. To give background and context to this crisis, panelists, including former Burma MP Shwe Maung, Yusuf Iqbal of Americans for Rohingya, Reza Uddin of Friends of Rohingya USA, and photographer Greg Constantine, discuss Burma’s carefully planned genocide of the Rohingya as well as the current situation for Rohingya living within and outside Burma. This program is presented as part of Exiled to Nowhere: A Symposium on the Rohingya Crisis.
Yusuf Iqbal was born in Loilem Shan State, Burma, in 1974. He attended IIUM Malaysia and graduated with a Bachelor of Management Information Systems. During his time at IIUM, he participated in various student activities and gained awareness in Malaysia about the Rohingya persecution in Burma. After graduation, Yusuf founded a successful tour business. In 2005, Yusuf came to the United States and settled in Portland. In 2010, he founded America West Trading LLC. Today, America West Trading LLC is successful with two grocery markets, Mingala International Market, and a restaurant, Mandhi House. Yusuf is not only a businessman but also an active community organizer and activist for human rights in Burma, focusing on Muslim and Rohingya issues. He is also a founder and a principal of an Islamic weekend school where more than 70 students have been learning about Islam and Quran for 7 years. Yusuf is the founder of the nonprofit America for Rohingya.
Documentary photographer Greg Constantine has spent 13 years documenting the ongoing abuses against the Rohingya. His work and the exhibition, Exiled To Nowhere: Burma's Rohingya have been shown in over 25 cities around the world. The exhibition documents not only the plight of the Rohingya, and how the tactics taken over time have led to the near destruction of this community, but also how, in spite of all that has been done to destroy them, the Rohingya continue to find a way to survive and persevere regardless of the ground beneath their feet.
Shwe Maung was born in 1965 in Burma. He's a former Member of Parliament in Myanmar (Burma), founder and president of AiPAD (Arakan Institute for Peace and Development) and RNDC (Rohingya National Development Council), as well as a board member of APHR (ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights) (www.aseanmp.org) and founding member of IPPFoRB (International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (www.ippforb.com). He has engaged with members of U.S. Congress, former U.S. presidents, and U.N. officials on a variety of issues related to the discrimination and persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar (Burma) government. He currently resides in Texas.
Reza Uddin is a Rohingya Muslim born and raised in Maungdaw, Rakhine State, Burma. His immediate family still lives in Maungdaw. Reza was educated at the University of Rangoon, Burma, where he earned a degree in Physics. After coming to the United States, he graduated from Portland State University in 1998. Professionally, he was trained as an analytical chemist for EPA method and worked twelve years for an environmental science company. Reza is the first Rohingya to settle in Oregon. Since then, he has sponsored other Rohingya families settle in Portland. Today, there are more than one hundred Rohingya families settled in Southeast Portland. Reza was president of the American Burmese Association of Oregon from 1996 to 2000 and has volunteered with various groups to help Burmese refugees regardless of their ethnic and religious background. He is the president and founder of Friends of Rohingya USA, a nonprofit that works on humanitarian relief in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh as well as in internally displaced camps for Rohingya inside Burma. He has recently made two trips to a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.
Sponsors for the event include the Oregon Historical Society, Never Again Coalition, World Oregon, Americans for Rohingya, Friends of Rohingya USA, Muslim Educational Trust, KBOO, The Immigrant Story, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Portland State University’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Lewis and Clark Law School’s Crime Victims’ Rights Alliance, American Jewish World Service, and RAIN International. With support form Eric and Alia Breon.