By Elijah DeRoche
2nd April, 2018
[aesop_content color=”#000000″ background=”#ffffff” component_width=”600px” columns=”1″ position=”none” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” disable_bgshading=”off” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]Situated in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a nation plagued with a history of violence and genocide, UWC Mostar acts to heal the nation’s ethnic divide. As the rest of Bosnia enforces the ‘Two schools under one roof’ policy, an arrangement in which Bosniaks and Croat students are taught in the same building, yet segregated through separate classrooms and curriculums, UWC Mostar remains one of the only schools to enroll students of all ethnic backgrounds. By bringing together Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats, and Orthodox Serbs, the nations three most divided bodies, UWC Mostar quite literally acts on UWC’s purpose “to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.”
In recent years, UWC Mostar has looked to the endowment ‘Bridge to the Future’ to fund yearly scholarships as well as other school necessities. Support for the endowment has grown, as many donors, both public and private, sponsor student scholarships in the names of public figures such as Nelson Mandela, Lord Mountbatten, Anne Frank and, until recently, Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. In a recent statement issued by UWC Mostar, the ‘Bridge to the Future’ Endowment would be discontinuing its scholarship in Aung San Suu Kyi’s name ‘due to the continuing crisis in the Rakhine state and the treatment of the Rohingya minorities in Myanmar.’ UWC Mostar is, however, not abolishing the scholarship itself but will offer it under another name. As a school in a nation far too accustomed to the ravages of genocide, the trustees of the fund ‘felt that they could no longer support an endowed scholarship in the name of Aung San Suu Kyi’ as she continues to deny and fails to act against the ongoing persecution and genocide of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya population.
[aesop_content color=”#000000″ background=”#ffffff” component_width=”600px” columns=”1″ position=”none” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” disable_bgshading=”off” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]As hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims flee west into Bangladesh with horrid accounts of mass rape and bloodshed, Myanmar seems to be undergoing a nationwide genocide. With tightening borders and restricted access, the Burmese government acts to keep prying international eyes out of the nation’s internal affairs at all costs, even arresting two investigating Reuters journalists on charges of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act. Without access to the Rakhine state, the U.N has been unable evaluate the current conditions and severity of the apparent genocide, preventing intervention and humanitarian aid. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to speak out against the massively directed violence towards Rohingya Muslims on account of what many speculate is a fear of a backlash from military officials and Buddhist nationalists. Despite having received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her activism against the oppressive Burmese dictatorship, Aung San Kyi has recently been condemned by fellow Peace Prize laureates such as the Dalai Lama and Shirin Ebadi for her inaction, lies and victim-blaming surrounding the Rohingya crisis.
Having been established as a bridge to connect the ethnic divide within Bosnia and Herzegovina, UWC Mostar has chosen to end the Aung San Suu Kyi scholarship, and instead ‘grant the next scholarship to a Rohingya refugee to study’ at the college. In a world where action is often replaced by inaction from stagnant leaders, it is important for forces such as UWC to challenge the powerful and stand beside their values. The ‘maltreatment of Rohingyas in Myanmar’ goes against UWC’s morales and cannot be indirectly supported through glorified endowments. UWC Mostar’s decision to discontinue the scholarship in Aung San Suu Kyi’s name has evoked a statement of defiance against not only Aung San Suu Kyi, but all world and political leaders that misuse their power and influence. This resolution reflects UWC’s values and ability to act not only as an educational body, but a political force as well.
Elijah DeRoche is an American first year student at United World College Maastricht. He has been a part of The Flying Dutchman as a writer since January 2018.