Type: Public event

Is genocide unfolding in Myanmar?

Date & time

Mar 30, 2015, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT


1110 Weill Hall Betty Ford Classroom
735 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 49240

About the Event:

The International Policy Center (IPC) and the International Policy Students Association (IPSA ) proudly present a dynamic conversation between Ford School’s Professor John Ciorciari, and Dr. Habib Siddiqui, a long-time activist on displaced people. This discussion aims to introduce the greater Michigan community to a long-standing ethnic conflict brewing in Myanmar’s Rakhine State (bordering Bangladesh). At the end of 2015, a general election will be held in Myanmar for the first time in 50 years, between Nobel Laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi and a representative of the junta. The election follows the historical opening of Myanmar after twenty years of army rule. During this transition toward democracy, several ethnic conflicts have come to surface, with the Rohingya being by far the most powerless. Since violent clashes broke out in 2012, more than one hundred thousand Muslim Rohingyas have been made homeless and hundreds have been killed. They are not regarded as citizens by the government in spite of living in the territory for over a century. On February 2nd, the parliament’s proposal to grant the Rohingya voting rights was a flicker of hope for the stateless Muslim minority, but the government withdrew support within ten days and in the face of a growing Buddhist protest. The Buddhist nationalists see the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and neighboring countries are reluctant to help.

This issue, steeped in history and legal complexity, provides insights into challenges characteristic of transitional democracies such as militant nationalism and Islamic insurgency.


About the Speakers:

Habib Siddiqui has over three decades of experience in peaceful activism, especially in defense of the rights of displaced people. His essays and articles on displaced people within Myanmar, Bosnia and Chechnya have brought to light the condition of highly marginalized and invisible populations, especially the Rohingya in Myanmar. Siddiqui has traveled around the world to generate awareness and deliver talks about the Rohingya including as a keynote speaker at the Thammasat University in Bangkok and as chief guest in a conference co-hosted by the Arakan Rohingya Organization (JARO) in Japan. The majority of his published works, comprised of more than a dozen books and over a thousand articles, delve into the political and cultural history of the Rohingya and Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Outside of advocacy, Siddiqui is an engineer and resides with his family near Philadelphia.

John Ciorciari's interests include international law, politics, and international finance. His current research projects focus primarily on the Asia-Pacific region, and examine foreign policy strategies, human rights, and the reform of international economic institutions. He has served as a National Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and as a Shorenstein Fellow at the university's Asia-Pacific Research Center. From 2004-07, he served as a policy official in the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of International Affairs. Since 1999, he has been a legal advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which promotes historical memory and justice for the atrocities of the Pol Pot regime. His book, "The Limits of Alignment: Southeast Asia and the Great Powers since 1975," investigates the power alignments of small and middle states in Southeast Asia.

This event is sponsored by the International Policy Center (IPC) and the International Policy Students Association (IPSA), with co-sponsorship from the the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), and the Islamic Studies Program (ISP)