Identification for the Stateless Refugees: Wrap Up

The Internet Identity Workshop has been finding, probing and solving identity issues twice every year since 2005. They meet at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. Every IIW moves topics, code, and projects downfield. Name an identity topic, and it’s likely that more substantial discussion and work has been done at IIW than any other conference.

Jeffrey Aresty, Larry Bridgesmith, Jonathan Holt, and Kristina Yasuda convened the program on “Identification for the Stateless Refugees” focusing on the Rohingya refugees on April 3rd.

They kicked off the session with a screening of “Is the Lady listening?”, a music video the PeaceTones project recorded in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh with Rohingya refugees, which was produced by international human rights lawyer David Levy in January 2018.

It was a great privilege to collaborate with musicians in the Rohingya Refugee Camp. They will not be silent in the face of genocide, and neither should you.#TheWorldUnitedinSong Musicians from around the world promoting human rights and social justice.Special thanks to the Rohingya and Bangladeshi communities in Cox's Bizar for their support. Written by Sayedul Islam, Rahamatullah, and David Levy. Translated by Muhammad MX Cox. Bass: Etson Caminha. Backing vocals: Abhisek, Ifti Chowdhury and Kelsey Shaw. Videographer: Noyon. Video editing by Malkriado Cinema: Thomas Henning, Mariano Goncalves, Jonas Rusumalay Diaz II, and Allone Madeira J. Additional editing by Eric Carden. A PeaceTones production.

Posted by David Levy on Tuesday, April 10, 2018

By providing the musicians the opportunity to tell their story to the world, we believe that the refugee population has taken the first step to regaining its identity. This sets the foundation for more digital identity work. See The Invisibles project.

Towards the end of the session, an open question was directed at the participants: What possible obstacles remain?

Their answers:

  • Refugees lack formal credentials that can be put into a digital wallet.
    • The last thing refugees want to do is to give out their real name.
    • SSI does not necessarily solve refugees’ problems.
  • At which point of the refugees’ journey are we addressing: those who just crossed the border or those already in the camp?
    • Identification and a method to match supply and demand in the camps are different things. People are not looking at the UN IDs as identities, but as means to get food.
  • Do these solutions require State actors and a top-down approach?
    • There is low trust towards State institutions in parts of the developing world.

Additional feedback focused on the need for solutions to context specific. One participant mentioned the need to consider providing identification for marginalized populations in the developed world such as homeless people, in addition to refugees and global south communities. And finally, political questions remain, but we can and have to start acting.

Call to Action

Support Rohingya Musicians who are making a difference in their communities through giving a voice to the voiceless. By supporting PeaceTones, you will raise awareness about the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, assist local human rights activists and their communities, and broaden the market for local artists. Visit for more information.

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