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Published March 12, 2020
This video was recorded by Kasha Rigby in Camp 4, Rohingya Refugee Camp in Bangladesh. Rohingya, or Ruáingga, is a language of the Bengali-Assamese branch of the Eastern Indo-Aryan language family. There are approximately 1.8 million Rohingya speakers, a predominantly Muslim community from Rakhine, Myanmar (Burma). In 2013, the United Nations declared the Rohingya people to be one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, as they are denied Myanma citizenship, as well as the right to public education and civil service employment, among other freedoms. Since 2016, the Myanma military launched a campaign of forced expulsions against Rohingya communities, which the United Nations, ICC, ICJ, and various human rights organizations have described as ethnic cleansing. As a result, over a million Rohingya people now reside as refugees abroad; the majority, like Shahida, are in Bangladesh, where they are denied full legal status. Since 2017, the Bangladeshi and Myanma governments have discussed facilitating the return of Rohingya refugees, but the process has stalled. The Rohingya people's language is related and often compared to Chittagonian, a language of Bangladesh, and the two are mutually intelligible. Despite initially being written in Arabic script, Rohingya now primarily uses the Hanifi Rohingya script, created by Maulana Hanif in 1983. The script was largely based on the Arabic alphabet, in addition to the Latin and Burmese alphabets, and is written from right to left. There are six vowels in the Rohingya language, and accented vowels are used to designate stress. Additionally, Rohingya utilizes 12 verb tenses: present, past, and future, which are each conjugated for the first, second, and third person.