A university in Bangladesh has suspended a female student following media reports that she belongs to the persecuted Rohingya community from neighboring Myanmar.
Abul Kashem, the vice-chancellor of Cox’s Bazar International University in southeast Bangladesh, said on Sunday that authorities had suspended Rahima Akter Khushi, 20, and would investigate her case.
A three-member committee was formed on Saturday, he added.
“Rohingya can’t be admitted to our university, because they are refugees,” the institution’s head said. “Foreigners can study here, but they must follow a procedure.”
Kashem said the young woman had provided documents showing she had completed high-school studies in Bangladesh’s port city of Chittagong.
Khushi, who was studying law, said the private university’s decision had “mentally shattered” her.
“Any other girl may have killed themselves by now. But... I am trying my best to face the situation,” media outlets quoted her as saying.
News website Rohingya Post said Khushi was targeted after a 2018 interview with the Associated Press went viral in Cox’s Bazar district, where the refugee camps are located.
Khushi said her parents arrived in Bangladesh from Rakhine in the 1990s and she was born and raised in Cox’s Bazar. “I wanted to go further. But I don’t know how I would do it.”
Mojib Ullah, a Brisbane-based Rohingya leader, said suspending Khushi would do “nothing but kill potential” in the community, who had limited opportunities to study in Rakhine, in Myanmar.
The decision follows the latest repatriation attempt by Bangladesh and Myanmar, which failed with not a single refugee agreeing to cross the border back home, where they had faced horrific state-sponsored violence.
More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh following a military-led crackdown in 2016 that the United Nations has said was perpetrated with “genocidal intent.”
Bangladesh was already hosting some 200,000 Rohingya when the 2017 exodus began.
Citizenship is at the heart of Rohingya demands for a return to Myanmar.
The Rohingya have inhabited Rakhine for centuries, but the state denies them citizenship. Bangladesh refuses to grant them citizenship, too.