The Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: Origin and Emergence


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 The Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: Origin and Emergence

By Md. Salman Sohel, Department of Public Administration, Jagannath University, Dhaka.

A Rohingya young boy with the diplomat magazine 2014, named Mohammad rafique said that Burmese view to them simply, as ―animals,‖ ―nonhuman‖ or ―aliens.‖ Many inflammatory Burmese politicians and authors refer to the Rohingya as a ―virus.‖ Ordinary Burmese people view us as ―Illegal Bengali‖. Actually there have been decades of propaganda and brainwashing of the general public against Rohingya by various government and non-government organizations.

 History witnesses that they are being persecuted long after day by Burmese military. Rohingya often faces deadly discrimination since 1962. The Myanmar government treats with them as a ugly animals. Despite world authority‘s evocation, they are driving persecution bulldozer on Rohingya minor community. Recently united nation has defined this killing as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Whatever, this paper focuses the conflict and Massacre which is running on Rohingya Muslims community. It also examines the origin and emergence of this crisis and current situation of Rohingya dearth. It discuss about ongoing military campaign against Rohingya ethnic community. This paper illustrates how Myanmar government implicating ethnic cleansing day after day. It also analyzes international response to protect Rohingya Muslims. This paper describe major clash between Myanmar and Rohingya group since 1962.

Rohingya Muslim can be defined as a minor Muslims community who are living in northern part of Myanmar. We can consider the terms Myanmar In 1988 with the ―Adaptation of Expression Law‖ (Art.2), promoted by the SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) the official name of the State became ―Union of Myanmar‖ and the old term Burma, used during the period of British domination, was replaced. Military referred Myanmar`s states soldiers who commit violence against Rohingya people.

Genocide means massacre and killing which is facing Rohingya Muslim in Myanmar. as well as ethnic cleansing also define in this article, we know united nation`s top human rights officials called Myanmar Rakhaine state as ―a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Arakan (Rakhine) is one of the borders with Bangladesh. The name Arakan has been

historically used calling this area, while the name states of the present Burma (the Union of Myanmar), having approximately 275 km-long e Rakhine has been used by the Buddhist Arakanese as well as the present Burmese government. ”Burma” is the official name of the country under the 1947 constitution. After seizing power in a coup in 1988, a military junta changed the name to Myanmar. see-, Brutality in Burma, L.A. TIMES, Feb. 25, 1992, at b6.

In South East Asia, within the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, in the northern part of Rakhine State, one of the most persecuted and forgotten populations in the entire world is striving to survive and to keep the right to live in the land in which their ancestors have been for centuries. The wide majority of the population indeed, together with the most powerful political, religious and cultural authorities of Myanmar has always labeled the Muslim Rohingya of Arakan as Bengali illegal migrants who trespass the border during the colonial period in which the British India was occupying Bangladesh and the entire Kingdom of Ava.  

The pattern of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Rakhine State may constitute crimes against humanity as defined under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Extra-judicial killing, rape and other forms of sexual violence, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment in detention, denial of due process and fair trial rights, and the forcible transfer and severe deprivation of liberty of populations has taken place on a large scale and has been directed against the Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State (Wikipedia).

According to Rachel Blomquist, Ethno-demographic grievances define the conflict between Buddhist and Rohingya-Muslim populations in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Nationalistic Buddhist leaders, such as the controversial monk Ashin Wirathu, maintain that the Rohingya population’s rapid growth and high fertility rates threaten to overtake local Buddhist populations, reflecting local Rakhine State sentiments. Although the Rohingya community faces deadly violence, this crisis did not get enough concentration to the world.

But we are regularly screamed about democracy, rule of law, good governance etc. We know that Aung San Suu Kyi who is a de facto leader of Myanmar told often us, she and her government are struggling to ensure justice and democracy even she is popularly known as democracy fighter in the western world. But the role of Aung San Suu Kyi about Rohingya crisis, really shame to us. However, this study, trying to find out real fact and history about Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

Objectives 1) To investigate the origin and emergence of Rohingya crisis in Myanmar; 2) To explore the Rohingya Muslims Communities history and 3) To identify the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar.

Who Are Rohingya? Summarize of Rohingya Muslim:

  1. Sunni Muslims.
  2. Make up 1/3 of Rakhine state’s population.
  3. 1,100,000 in Myanmar.
  4. Significant population in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Malaysia.
  5. Government claims they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and rejects them as one of the nation’s 135 official ethnic groups.
  6. Most live in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships. (Sources: Warzone Initiative-2015 )

Though the Rohingya issue actually exists, it is not so simple to answer the question that the Rohingyas are. One Rohingya historian who is an activist in Bangladesh explains that the origin of the name ”Rohingya” derived from ”Rohan”, ”Roham” or ”Rosham”, which in all cases were the old name of the capital of the ancient Arakan Kingdom, Mrauk-U, that is present Mrohaung. He explains that those names have changed to ”Roshangee” and finally to ”Rohingya”

The Rohingyas have already written their own history in a few books, though all of them were written and published abroad by the Rohingyas in exile. The typical discourse of their history written in English is found in AFK Jilani’s The Rohingyas of Arakan: Their quest for justice, which was published in 1999. He has written, Islam reached Arakan before 788 A.D. Since then the Rohingyas seem to have been residing there. The Rohingyas are not the British Era settlers. The history recounts that Arakan was the land where originally the Muslims lived as the majority. Rohingya language was the original lingua franca in Arakan used by both the Rohingyas and the Buddhist Arakanese. The Kingdom of Arakan (the Mrauk-U dynasty, 1430-1785) was a Muslim dynasty in essence, though they had some Buddhist influence. The Buddhist Arakanese was called Maghs in origin. Since they disgraced their name by themselves through committing piracy and dacoitry against Hindus and Muslims for more than two centuries, they started calling themselves Rakhines in order to avoid their infamousness of the past. Although the British promised to make the Rohingya state out of Arakan, it was not materialized. Buddhist Arakanese MPs in the post-independence parliamentary era (1948-62) were always unfriendly against the Rohingyas throughout their tenure by branding Rohingyas as Chittagonians and never regarded them as fellow human beings.

Another sources, we know, the term Rohingya is used to distinguish an ethnic, linguistic and religious group who lived in the former Arakan State of Myanmar. Rohingya people are officially stateless and disowned by the Myanmar government, which argues that Rohingyas are not Myanmar citizens and that they came originally from undivided-Bengal (MSF, 2010; Ahmed, 2010). The United Nations has described the Rohingya of Myanmar as one of the world’s most persecuted people, with their situation being compared to that of the Palestinians or Roma, yet their situation has been rarely publicized by the Western media and their plight little understood by the outside world. So, who are the Rohingya and why are they in such dire straits? One concise definition is that of an IRIN News briefing document which states: ―The Rohingya are a Muslim minority ethnically related to the Bengali people living, in neighboring Bangladesh’s Chittagong District. They form 90percent of the one million people living in the north of Rakhine State in Myanmar, which borders Bangladesh.

Associated Press writer Todd Pitman gives us a harsher ―They have been called ogres and animals, terrorists and much worse when their existence is even acknowledged. Asia’s more than 1 million ethnic Rohingya Muslims are considered to be among the most persecuted people on Earth. Most live in an anachronistic purgatory without passports, unable to travel freely or call any place home.

There is considerable evidence that the Rohingya have inhabited the Arakan region, now called Rakhine state, for centuries. IRIN News, for instance, says that : ―Muslims living along the coast of Rakhine State can be traced back to the eighth and ninth century‘s when Arab traders settled in the area. Furthermore, influx occurred between the 15th and 19th centuries is due to the trading activities of Portuguese pirates and merchants and regarding thousands of human beings. In many cases the commerce of slaves encompassed groups coming from Islamic and Hindu areas, which were sold along the Burmese coasts of the Bengal Bay. The chronicles and the activities of the European missionary priests demonstrate that the Muslim slaves had shaped a wide community within Arakan a long time before the arrival of the Anglo-Indian invaders. The last massive wave is the Mughals’ one, well described by Sir Alfred Phayre and other eminent scholars expert in the history of Arakan. Among them, three thousand Kaman archers constituted a distinct group that was destined to have a wide influence in the Mrauk-U court in the following decades (Sir Alfred Phayre History of Burma‖, Trubner & Co, Ludgate Hill, 1883, London ) Muslims and Buddhists have historically lived on both sides of the Naaf River, which marks the current border with Bangladesh.

The entire family of Shah Shuja‘s family was massacred by the same King Chandra Sudarma that had previously hosted them, but many of the surviving soldiers remained in the Arakanese territory, increasing once again the Islamic presence in the zone. Among them, three thousand Kaman archers constituted a distinct group that was destined to have a wide influence in the Mrauk-U court in the following decades (Sir Alfred Phayre History of Burma‖, Trubner & Co, Ludgate Hill, 1883, London ) Muslims and Buddhists have historically lived on both sides of the Naaf River, which marks the current border with Bangladesh. The British annexed the region after an 1824-26 conflict and encouraged migration from India, including that of laborers, merchants and administrators. Information, on the right of the Rohingya to be considered natives of Rakhine State may be found in an International Policy Digest article which states: ―Rohingya Muslims, however, are native to the state of Rohang , officially known as Rakhine or Arakan. If one is to seek historical accuracy, not only are the Rohingya people native to Myanmar, it was in fact Burma that occupied Rakhine in the 1700’s.##


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