Capilano Universe Series Returns This Spring

The Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis by Charles Greenberg is just one of several public talks by a CapU professor

The Capilano Universe lecture series are complimentary lectures presented in public libraries by various CapU professors to interested individuals. CapU Psychology Professor Dr. Leonard George came up with the idea in 2010 for Capilano Universe as a way of enriching people’s minds.

On Feb. 28, Professor Charles Greenberg will be speaking about the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis and address the problems the Rohingya people are facing. The narrative of how they were killed while having their human rights violated, and the way they were forced out of their own country by the government of Myanmar is told through the professor’s perspective.

Greenberg has a background in Geography and Asian studies. He studied in Manitoba and British Columbia and he currently teaches at CapU. Greenberg decided to participate in the Capilano Universe series in order to shine a light on this alarming topic. The topic is a personal one for Greenberg, because he lived and worked in Asia investigating urban studies. “Both my MA and PhD research were focused on cities and planning. The humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya population is a personal topic for me,” he said.

Due to his passion for the ongoing story of the Rohingya, he believes this is an important issue and people should be aware of the crisis. “Most people don’t know about the horrors facing the Rohingya [when] this is nothing less than genocide in real time,” said Greenberg.

Greenberg first took an interest in the Rohingya in 2015 when he uncovered an upsetting and provocative report published by the International State Crime Initiative (ICSI) School of Law located at Queen Mary University in London, England. The report delineated “in chilling detail” incriminating evidence that the government and military of Myanmar was behind the policy of the Rohingya genocide. Professor Greenberg interpreted this information as a description of the state’s policy, which is to “stigmatize, discriminate and even kill the population.” He also mentioned that the report disturbed him. Since then, his interest has grown and, after some time, he began to follow the plight of the Rohingya.

In Aug. 2017, Myanmar’s military launched the largest attack to date an unmerciful attack on the Rohingya, which resulted in the extermination and extreme suffering of half a million people. The survivors of the tragedy ran to countries such as Bangladesh, where a million Rohingya refugees live in dreadful conditions. “[These are] terribly overcrowded refugee camps,” Greenberg said. “Repatriation is unlikely and the chance of a third country resettlement is extremely low… What will happen to them? It’s a colossal tragedy with no plausible solutions.”

A video report by <i>Vox<i> discusses this phenomenon, which is called “ethnic cleansing.” Due to their Muslim beliefs, the Rohingya have been persecuted by the Myanmar military, who are under a Buddhist relinfluence. Because they were situated in a Buddhist country, the Rohingya have been unfairly exiled from their own land. The exodus began in 1991, when the Myanmar government addressed this devastating issue as Operation Clean and Beautiful Nation. Today, the Myanmar government does not allow refugees to come back from Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries by laying landmines at the Bangladesh border. And when the state councillor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, is asked about the subject, she believes and explains that everything is fine, and that at least 50 per cent of the Muslims are still living in the territory of Myanmar.

To learn more about this humanitarian crisis, join Greenberg at the West Vancouver Memorial Library on Thursday, Feb. 28 from 7 to 8:45 pm. More information about other lectures, including a talk by Conrad King about the rise of populism on March 14, is available on CapU’s website.


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