May 5, 2021: To commemorate Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, STF hosted a virtual conversation with writer and human rights activist, Imran Mohammed, entitled “Genocide and the Climate Crisis”.
“People like me don’t have the choice to decide or make plans to leave our motherland on a specific date, at a particular time, and from a selected place. We are so desperate to escape from a life-and-death situation,” Imran said. More than 80 attendees listened to him share his experience as a Rohingya refugee fleeing genocide in Myanmar and immigrating to the U.S.
After telling his powerful story, there was an opportunity for participants to join Imran Mohammed in a Q&A session. One question prompted Imran to illustrate, in stark terms, the connection between the climate crisis and genocide. “To those who are in Myanmar, any climate and ecological collapse will really destroy their lives, because their freedom of movement is restricted – they can’t go anywhere,” said Imran. “Those who are in [Bangladesh makeshift] camps, they are cutting down all the trees to make their tent[s]. The soil is becoming very fragile, especially during the monsoon season. There is water everywhere. They lost their homes overnight and people die.”
In light of the tragic events Imran Mohammed endured, he emphasized to everyone the importance of the role that human rights advocates play in saving lives, saying “My freedom and future are not only down to my strong will and determination, but also to organizations like HRW that don’t turn a blind eye towards people like me who face abuse, torture, the loss of dignity and life… I wouldn’t be here speaking with all of you if people didn’t care.”