Is Dhaka Violating Islamic-Humanitarian Rights to Education of Rohingya Refugee Children?

Kayhan Int’l Staff Writer
   Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948, reads:
   "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
   Interestingly, there is a large hand-woven Persian wall carpet at the UN headquarters in New York gifted by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005 and inscribed with the famous poem of the medieval Iranian poet, Mosleh od-Din Sa’di of Shiraz, in the same vein:
  "The children of Adam are members of one frame,
   "Since all, at first, from the same essence came.
    "When time afflicts a limb with pain
   "The other limbs at rest cannot remain.
   "If thou feel not for other’s misery    
   "A human being is no name for thee”.
   Sa’di is said to have been inspired by a hadith attributed to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) that "The example of the believers (Muslims) in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the rest of the body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”
     If the above mentioned article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been memorized by governments of all world countries especially diplomats visiting the UN and also noticing the big bold golden letters on the Iranian wall carpet in the Meeting Hall of the World Body, Sa’di is a household name in not just Iran and the Muslim World, but throughout the globe which considers the works of this Persian poet among the heritage of mankind.
     Bangladesh, which is hosting around a million Rohingya refugees displaced from their homeland Arakan or Rakhine by the bloodthirsty military junta of Myanmar, is also fully aware of the articles of the UN Charter and of the contents of "Gulistan” and "Bustan”, the masterpieces of Sa’di, including his poem on the World Body’s walls in New York, both in the original Persian and the Bengali translations.
     In fact, Bangladesh is heir to almost eight centuries of the Islamic Persianate culture of the Subcontinent, first as a seat of a series of dynasties of whom one had invited the great Iranian poet Hafez Shirazi (who in reply sent a famous Persian poem to the ruler Ghiyas od-Din Azam Shah), next as a province of the Mughal Empire, followed by the semi-independent Nawab Nazims of Iranian origin, before being annexed by the British to emerge as East Pakistan in 1947, and finally as a fully independent country and UN member in 1971.
     In view of this rich legacy and history, it is a matter of regret that the current government in Dhaka is reportedly depriving Rohingya Muslim refugees of their Islamic right to education.
     Why? Because, if the report released last Tuesday by the Human Rights Watch is to be believed, the authorities in Bangladesh want to prevent the Rohingyas from integrating with local communities, despite the fact that many of them share close cultural ties with the Bengali Muslims.
      The camps, located in the Cox Bazar district, are home to as many as 1 million displaced people -- the largest such refugee settlement in the world.
       The release of the report by the New York-based Foundation, titled, "Are We Not Human” reflects the difficulties faced by the camp’s 400,000 school-age children, who without proper education, will be left more vulnerable to abuse, crime and poverty.
       According to Bill Van Esveld, Associate Children’s Rights Director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, who acknowledged that "the government of Bangladesh saved countless lives by opening its borders and providing refuge to the Rohingya”, depriving children of education "merely compounds the harm to the children and won’t resolve the refugees’ plight any faster.”
       In his 81-page report he claimed that the Bangladeshi government has barred UN humanitarian agencies and NGOs from providing children in the camps with any formal or accredited education, saying: "Dhaka needs to end its misguided policy of blocking education for Rohingya children.”
      Bangladesh officials, however, deny the report and say the Rohingya refugee children are free to study. If such is the case, then Dhaka should practically carry out its Muslim and humanitarian responsibilities, in order to earn the pleasure of God Almighty for having helped co-religionists forced to seek asylum in the face of the brutal genocide unleashed by the Buddhists of Myanmar.