For Fozia Alvi, the ongoing crisis that’s been unfolding in Myanmar is more than a possible crime against humanity, as the International Criminal Court ruled last week. Alvi, a family physician based in Calgary who volunteers, ICNA Relief and the founder Humanity Auxilium, sees the plight of the Rohingya Muslims as a “a loss of human potential.” In the last year, since Myanmar’s government began cracking down on the Rohingya, some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh where they live in refugee camps. The conditions in the camps are godawful and those who made it out of Myanmar alive and without being brutally raped face similar dangers in the camps.
Last month, Alvi returned to Bangladesh to treat the suffering refugees, and Women in the World cameras were following her. She paid a visit to the second annual Women in the World Canada Summit to talk about what she saw and to continue calling for the world to sit up and pay attention to the displaced ethnic minority rather than focusing on the latest tawdry details “with Trump and Stormy Daniels.”
“I’m so thrilled to be sitting here with one of my heroes,” Tina Brown told the audience at the Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning in Toronto on Monday. Alvi showed some of the footage Women in the World producers shot while they followed her on her recent trip to Bangladesh. She also recounted the brutal treatment many women there have been subjected to. “Women were raped in front of their children. Sometimes they were raped [while next to] the dead bodies of their children,” she told the audience, barely able to contain her emotions at the sadness their suffering evokes. “These are human beings like us. They have the same organs. They have the same heart.”
What Alvi also finds to be deeply tragic is the devastating toll the crisis is having on the Rohingya youth, many of whom won’t survive. And those that do survive will never get even a modicum of a proper education.
“We often say, where is the next Albert Einstein? What about if the next Einstein is a girl in Africa, and she’s not getting an education?” Alvi wondered. “What if the next Einstein is a Rohingya boy in Myanmar who is struggling to survive, and now is wasting his life in these camps?”
Aliv and Brown also discussed the negligence of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counselor, who has done so little to address the violence and killing that she’s been openly criticized by Malala Yousafzai and stripped of a prestigious award given to her in 1997. Watch highlights from and the full video of Alvi and Brown’s conversation above.