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The Rohingya: A Question of Citizenship and Identity featuring the Documentary Michael’s

Organiser:
Keith Leitich
Pierce College Puyallup
kleitich@pierce.ctc.edu

Chair:
Keith Leitich
Pierce College Puyallup
kleitich@pierce.ctc.edu

In recent years issues of citizenship and identity have become central to the Rohingya as they seek political recognition and assimilation into Burmese society. Forced to flee from institutionalized political and religious persecution following the anti-Rohingya violence in 2012 many Rohingya have sought refuge in Mae Sot along the Thailand-Burma border. Kunnawut Boonreak’s film examines the lives of ‘Michael Right’ and Yameen ‘Michael Muhammad’, two Rohingya men who have struggled with issues of citizenship and identity while negotiating everyday struggles as an internally displaced person(s). Their story takes place in the heart of Mae Sot and Umpiem Mai Refugee Camp.

The two Michaels’ are both Rohingya but come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. By juxtaposing their two lives, Boonreak seeks to examine how their socioeconomic status affects issues of citizenship and identity. While citizenship brings one a life outside the camps fences, the other tries to acquire citizenship from inside the refugee camp. Both have attempted to maintain their Rohingya identity. Each Michael seeks an ‘identity’ that others will accept. Even with their shared religious identity, that of being a Rohingya Muslim, their socioeconomic status divides them.

The roundtable will examine the issues of citizenship and identity within the context of Rohingya refugee crisis and the anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar as well as the ongoing democratic transition taking place in Myanmar.

Discussants:

Sanam Amin
University of Kent
saa49@kent.ac.uk

Currently studying human rights law at the University of Kent, Amin was the research officer at ALTSEAN-Burma, a human rights organisation based in Thailand that works closely with regional partners on issues, including migrant labour. Amin will contribute insight and analysis on Rohingya migration.

Kunnawut Boonreak
Chiang Mai University
kunnawut.b@gmail.com

Graduate Student and Filmmaker.
Mr. Boonreak’s documentary will examine the lives of ‘Michael Right’ and Yameen ‘Michael Muhammad’, two Rohingya men who have struggled with issues of citizenship and identity while negotiating everyday struggles as an internally displaced person(s).

Dr. Pia Jolliffe
University of Oxford
pia.jolliffe@bfriars.ox.ac.uk

Dr Pia Jolliffe is a Research Scholar of Blackfriars Hall and a Visiting Academic at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford. She holds a DPhil in International Development and a Masters Degree in Japanese Studies and Sociology. Her current research interests include the nexus between international development, migration, education and life course transitions. In this respect Pia has ten years of fieldwork experience with refugees and ethnic minorities at the Thailand-Myanmar border and in the United Kingdom. Dr. Jolliffe will provide insight and analysis on life inside refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.
Dr. Jolliffe will provide insight and analysis on life inside refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border.

Dr. Kirsten McConnachie
University of Warwick

Mr. Akkanut Wantanasombut
Chulalongkorn University