Oxford University has been criticised for its links with Myanmar’s University of Yangon by a panellist who appeared at an Islamic Society event.
Dr. Maung Zarni alleged that the University of Yangon “is fully controlled by the government that is widely accused of committing crimes against humanity and even a genocide”.
Myanmar, and its leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, have been condemned worldwide for treatment of the Rohingya people.
Zarni said in a recent column: “The fact that Yangon University, its faculty and graduates are engaged in this classic denial of atrocities, should be an alarm call and a serious concern for Oxford University administration.”
He added: “It is high time that the leadership of the University reviewed its institutional ties to Myanmar’s higher education sector.”
Oxford University established links and a programme of assistance with universities in Myanmar in 2015, following the election of the country’s first democratic government.
The Myanmar Education Ministry reportedly expelled over three dozen students for recently holding a protest demanding an increase in the educational budget for universities.
By reviewing their links, he said, the “administration of the University of Oxford still have a chance to do the right thing and avoid being recorded in the annals of genocide as a by-stander at best, complicit at worst, in the ongoing Burmese genocide.”
Dr. Zarni told Cherwell: “Oxford students need to be informed about the fact that there is a growing call for the university’s most iconic graduate, namely Aung San Suu Kyi, to be tried at the International Criminal Court for her complicity and culpability in the crimes against humanity and even genocide.”
“The students need to confront Oxford University administration as to why it is behaving like business as usual over its close links with both Aung San Suu Kyi and her Ministry of Education, which runs Yangon University.”
Dr. Zarni was a panel member at last night’s Oxford University Islamic Society event entitled ‘Rohingya: The Silent Genocide?’ hosted at Pembroke College.
Affnafee Rahman, Politics Chair of the Islamic Society, told Cherwell: “The Rohingya crisis is central to every Oxford student.
“The first step for Oxford students is to learn the history, engage in the discussion and discourse and this will take time but I am sure with time we can take the right course of action.”
“The panel is here to discuss the human rights violations against the Rohingya, they are here to explore ideas as to how this injustice can be brought to an end.”
“As for what the University should do, it should be done through formal protests coordinated by all the JCRs and MCRs and not any individual Societies [to] get as many students and academics involved to eventually revoke Suu Kyi’s degree.”
A spokesperson for Oxford University told Cherwell: “The Oxford programme spans a number of academic disciplines, with the goal of supporting peaceful and inclusive democracy, strengthened rule of law, and the provision of greater economic opportunities through higher education.
“The University remains committed to these ideals, and hopes the Myanmar administration led by Aung Sang Sui Kyi can eliminate discrimination and oppression, and demonstrate to the world that Myanmar values the lives of all its citizens.”