Concept Note for Rohingya Genocide Evidence Collection

Project Context

The Rohingya population is the one of most persecuted minority group that has experienced systematic discrimination and violence since the 1970s when they were first unrecognized as citizens of Burma by the Burmese government. Over the years, the stripping of citizenship, combined with physical, emotional and sexual violence against them has resulted in over one million Rohingyas being forcibly displaced in different influxes in 1978, 1991–1992, 2012, and 2017. While the recent negotiations between Bangladesh and Myanmar aim to resolve the crisis, there might now be time to reflect on the overall situation and evaluate the crisis holistically. Strong data collection, analysis, and management systems have been implemented which effectively monitor and support Rohingya refugee camp management in Bangladesh, primarily facilitated by UNICEF. However, there is little information and data on Rohingya refugees that first migrated to Bangladesh during 1978 and 1991–1992.

In 1948, states defined “genocide” as any acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” including:

(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Existing research have primarily discussed points (a), (b), and (d) of the 1948 Genocide convention in relation to the Rohingya crisis. However, our study will aim to illustrate and establish systemic persecution such as eviction, lack of access to housing, education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement spanning over four decades were all actions (c) “deliberately inflicted on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” by the Burmese government.

Objectives of the Project

  1. To investigate the human rights violations against the Rohingya population from 1978, 1991–1992, 2012, and 2017
  2. To identify the civil, political, social, and cultural freedoms that were revoked from the Rohingyas
  3. To establish historical patterns of systemic persecution
  4. To develop an online portal to document the human rights violations and forms of system persecution that Rohingya refugees have experienced from 1978 – 2017
  5. To raise awareness of Rohingya people by exhibiting the findings at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Manitoba

Methodology: Data Collection and Analysis

The research project aims to establish that the systematic genocide of the Rohingyas occurred by locating patterns of persecution leading to the latest wave of violence in 2017. This project aims to achieve this objective by employing a mixed-method research study to explore the historical patterns of discrimination and persecution, as well as gather evidence of genocide of the Rohingyas focusing from 1978 to 2017. An Explanatory Sequential design will be employed which is the first phase of quantitative data collection and analysis, followed by the collection of qualitative data to explain and confirm the initial quantitative results.

The work on the proposed evidence collection can be structured as follows:

Quantitative Approach: Administering preliminary surveys in the selected camps/cities

The quantitative part of the research will focus on administering a preliminary survey of the refugee population in the refugee camps and cities in Bangladesh. The survey will be distributed to 4000 Rohingya refugees and will help to locate participants based in the refugee camps and cities in Bangladesh who have their origins in:
In addition, within this method, the aim is to gather gender-disaggregated data with the populations that have witnessed or survived persecution. The survey includes questions focusing on their personal details such as education, occupation, employment indicators, wages, working conditions, the wave during which they migrated to Bangladesh, and the discrimination faced in Myanmar. This will also include gathering information about their places of origin and any documentary evidence that corresponds to the claim to establish credibility.

Qualitative Approach: Conducting interviews with key informants and selected Rohingyas

The qualitative approach will focus on utilizing secondary sources and referring to a national database created by the “Relief, Rehabilitation and Repatriation department of the Government of Bangladesh to gather information on Rohingya refugees, and conducting interviews with a total of 2000 Rohingya refugees, selected from the surveys administered at the first stage, and 100 key expert interviews with civil society workers, historians, government officials in Bangladesh, and members of the Rohingya diaspora. The 2000 participants will be equally divided into groups of men and women to maintain a gender balance. This population will also include 50 elderly men and 50 women participants above the age of 50 to document the patterns of the first and second waves of persecution and migration. A semi-structured, in-depth interview will be used to interview the participants; the interview will also be recorded with the consent of the participants so that it can serve as evidence. This will lead to interviewing the expert group and correlating, the claims of the interviewees with that of the expert opinion. Quantitative and Qualitative data gathered during the duration of the data collection phase will be analyzed using STRATA and NVivo, respectively.

Timeline of the Project

Initial List of Key Stakeholders

The Conflict and Resilience Research Institute has established MOU’s and will work alongside the following stakeholders in Bangladesh:

1. Unity for Peace-building and Socio-economic Advancement for the Marginalized (UPSAM)
2. Rohingya Centre of Canada
3. Prantik

CRRIC’s Capacity

CRRIC has developed and implemented three projects focusing on the Rohingya population in refugee camps in Bangladesh between 2017-2022. For this project, CRRIC will provide project coordination and management support for the stakeholders in Bangladesh and act as primary point of contact for funders and implementers.

Things to explore:

1. Review whether the research study meets ethical considerations
2. Financial options and alternates to secure funding for the project
3. Combined approach to prioritizing immediate ground concerns in Bangladesh (after engagement and consensus from potential partners and stakeholders)
4. In consultation with stakeholders prepare an appropriate budget and workplan