By Chris Young / The Telegraph & Argus
THE plight of Rohingya Muslims has been raised by pupils at a Bradford school, including one who came to the city as a refugee 10 years ago.
A group of Year 12 students at Grange Technology College have spent the last few weeks researching the ethnic group, which has faced decades of persecution in their home of Myanmar.
Yesterday the pupils gave an assembly to their school mates, both highlighting the issues the community faces and the work the UK has done to help them.
Thousands are thought to have been killed in recent violence in the area, and hundreds of thousands forced to flee their country.
Their presentation has been recorded by Bradford based Charity Linking Network, and it will act as the school’s entry in a national competition to create a video highlighting the UK’s aid efforts to support the Rohingya people.
One of the students, Sirazul Islam, 18, could speak first hand of the issues faced by the Rohingya – he was born in one of the refugee camps, and moved to Bradford a decade ago with his family to escape persecution.
He said: “I grew up in a small camp, a small bedroom shared by a family of seven. We didn’t have access to basic human rights like education and the right to feel safe. We had to migrate to escape persecution.
“When the UK agreed to take us on there was a mixture of anxiety but also happiness. I had never left the camp and now I was travelling to a totally new country. I am so grateful to the UK.”
He told the Telegraph & Argus that the project was one of the first times he could really speak about his experiences. He said: “It was the first time I could really open up about it. A lot of people don’t know what Rohingya is. Now they know so it makes it easier for me to talk about it, it has let me open up and tell my story.
“People used to think I was Bengali, but now I’m happy that people know who I really am.
“Education is so important, so I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to have an education and use it to raise my voice.”
The students had worked with local charity British Rohingya Community UK, who introduced them to a number of refugees who were able to tell their stories.
Azam Ali, from Linking Network, said: “We do a lot of activities with schools like this to help pupils realise what is going on globally and what it means to be British. Learning about what the country is doing to support other people around the world is helping them to celebrate British identity.”
Sarabjit Gill, Personal, social, health and economic co-ordinator at the school, said: “This is amazing work the students have done, and they’ve been doing it very independently.”
The winner of the project will get a trip to the Commonwealth Office, and the video the pupils produce will be both on the school website and the Britain Helps website.
The school also hopes their video can be toured around other venues.