Rohingya People – On Wikiwand


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   Rohingya People – On Wikiwand

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The Rohingya people (/roʊˈɪndʒə, -hɪn-, -ɪŋjə/) are a stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group who predominantly follow Islam [21][22][23] and reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar (previously known as Burma). There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the Rohingya genocide in 2017.[1][24][25] Described by the United Nations in 2013 as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world,[26][27][28] the Rohingya population is denied citizenship under the 1982 Myanmar nationality law.[29][30][31][31] They are also restricted from freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs.[31][32] The legal conditions faced by the Rohingya in Myanmar have been widely compared to apartheid[33][34][35][36] by many international academics, analysts and political figures, including Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu, a South African anti-apartheid activist.[37] 

The Rohingya maintain they are indigenous to western Myanmar with a heritage of over a millennium and influence from the Arabs, Mughals and Portuguese. The community claims it is descended from people in precolonial Arakan and colonial Arakan; historically, the region was an independent kingdom between Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.[38] The position of the Myanmar government is that Rohingyas are not a national ”indigenous race”, but are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. It argues that the Muslims of precolonial times are now recognized as Kameins and that the Rohingya conflate their history with the history of all Muslims in Arakan to advance a separatist agenda.[39][40][41] In addition, Myanmar’s government does not recognize the term ”Rohingya” and prefers to refer to the community as ”Bangali” in a pejorative manner.[42][43] Rohingya campaign groups, notably the Arakan Rohingya National Organization, demand the right to ”self-determination within Myanmar”.[44]

Various armed insurrections by the Rohingya have taken place since the 1940s and the population as a whole has faced military crackdowns in 1978, 1991–1992,[45] 2012, 2015, 2016–2017 and particularly in 2017–2018, when most of the Rohingya population of Myanmar was driven out of the country, into neighboring Bangladesh.[46][47][48][49][50][51] By December 2017, an estimated 625,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar, had crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 2017.[52][53][54][55][56] UN officials and Human Rights Watch have described Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing.[57][58] The UN human rights envoy to Myanmar reported ”the long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya community… could amount to crimes against humanity”,[59] and there have been warnings of an unfolding genocide.[60][61] Probes by the UN have found evidence of increasing incitement of hatred and religious intolerance by ”ultra-nationalist Buddhists” against Rohingyas while the Myanmar security forces have been conducting ”summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment, and forced labour” against the community.[62][63][64]

Before the 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis and the military crackdown in 2016 and 2017, the Rohingya population in Myanmar was around 1.0 to 1.3 million,[24][65][66][1][67] chiefly in the northern Rakhine townships, which were 80–98% Rohingya.[68] Since 2015, over 900,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to south-eastern Bangladesh alone,[69] and more to other surrounding countries, and major Muslim nations.[70][71][72][6][73] More than 100,000 Rohingyas in Myanmar are confined in camps for internally displaced persons.[74][75] Shortly before a Rohingya rebel attack that killed 12 security forces on 25 August 2017, the Myanmar military launched ”clearance operations” against the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state[76][77] that, according to NGOs, the Bangladeshi government and international news media, left many dead, many more injured, tortured or raped, with villages burned. The government of Myanmar has denied the allegations.

The modern term Rohingya emerged from colonial and pre-colonial terms Rooinga and Rwangya.[78]  The Rohingya refer to themselves as Ruáingga /ɾuájŋɡa/. In Burmese they are known as rui hang gya  (following the MLC Transcription System) (Burmese: ရိုဟင်ဂျာ /ɹòhɪ̀ɴd͡ʑà/) while in Bengali they are called Rohingga (Bengali: রোহিঙ্গা /ɹohiŋɡa/). The term ”Rohingya” may come from Rakhanga or Roshanga, the words for the state of Arakan. The word Rohingya would then mean ”inhabitant of Rohang”, which was the early Muslim name for Arakan.[79][80][81]

The usage of the term Rohingya has been historically documented prior to the British Raj. In 1799, Francis Buchanan wrote an article called ”A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire”, which was found and republished by Michael Charney in the SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research in 2003.[82][83][84] Among the native groups of Arakan, he wrote are the: ”Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.”[85][82] The Classical Journal of 1811 identified ”Rooinga” as one of the languages spoken in the ”Burmah Empire”. In 1815, Johann Severin Vater listed ”Ruinga” as an ethnic group with a distinct language in a compendium of languages published in German.[86] In 1936, when Burma was still under British rule, the ”Rohingya Jam’iyyat al Ulama” was founded in Arakan.[87][41][note 1]

The government of Prime Minister U Nu, when Burma was a democracy from 1948–1962, used the term ”Rohingya” in radio addresses as a part of peace-building effort in Mayu Frontier Region.[94] The term was broadcast on Burmese radio and was used in the speeches of Burmese rulers.[38] A UNHCR report on refugees caused by Operation King Dragon referred to the victims as ”Bengali Muslims (called Rohingyas)”.[95] Nevertheless, the term Rohingya wasn’t widely used until the 1990s.[94][95][96]

Rohingya culture shares many similarities to that of other ethnic groups in the region. The clothing worn by most Rohingyas is indistinguishable from those worn by other groups in Myanmar.[295] Men wear bazu (long sleeved shirts) and longgi or doothi (loincloths) covering down to the ankles. Religious scholars prefer wearing kurutha, jubba or panjabi (long tops). In special occasions, Rohingya men sometimes wear taikpon (collarless jackets) on top of their shirts.[295] Lurifira is a type of flat bread regularly eaten by Rohingyas,[295] while bola fira is a popular traditional snack made of rice noodles.[296] Betel leaves, colloquially known as faan, are also popular amongst Rohingyas.[295]

The overwhelming majority of Rohingya people practice Islam, including a blend of Sunni Islam and Sufism[300][301][302][303] and about 2.5% of Rohingya are Hindu.[302][304][305] The government restricts their educational opportunities; so many of them pursue fundamental Islamic studies as their only option. Mosques and madrasas are present in most villages. Traditionally, men pray in congregations and women pray at home.[306]


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