Views: 37

Divided by hatred but united over the written word, Rohingya Muslim poets in Bangladeshi refugee camps joined Buddhist bards in Myanmar by video link as part of a ground-breaking poetry festival in a country reeling from genocide allegations.

Five Rohingya writers took part in the three-day “Poetry for Humanity” event in Yangon, with three speaking live by video link to a packed room while two had sent pre-recorded readings, fearing their stuttering connection would not hold up.

They drew applause for verses on the bloodshed that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee their homes in northern Rakhine state – and also for their resilience.

“My words are taller than the walls put between Buddhists and Muslims. My words are stronger than the hatred designed for me,” reads one verse from writer Mayyu Ali’s poem My Words.

He fled with his family to the Bangladeshi camps where he has helped bring together a group of around 150 refugees sharing a passion for poetry.

“I want to show Burmese people that the Rohingya are also Burmese. We also love Myanmar,” the 27-year-old told AFP.

Poets once vexed Myanmar’s censorship-obsessed former military junta.

Now younger writers are keeping the art form alive as a form of dissent under the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi, which has defended the crackdown against the Rohingya.

EMBRACING THE “R” WORD

The festival came in a week of heightened sensitivity over the crisis.

The International Court of Justice ruled Thursday there was enough evidence to pursue allegations that Myanmar committed genocide against the Rohingya, and ordered the country to comply with urgent measures to protect the minority.

To read more https://www.france24.com/en/20200126-rohingya-refugee-writers-dial-into-myanmar-poetry-slam?fbclid=IwAR28cbdw8K5XEhORXcsoIjBHnhc9mD_FafUOwsypt2dPfW3mga3QrOQKDZU