Violations Against Arakenses: (compiled by The Sail)
Before the king of Bo-Daw-Pa-Ya occupied the Arakan, the Arakan is separated region and it neither fell into Burma nor British or Bangladesh.
Before Independence, violations against Rohingya in Arakan were mostly in every power transition periods of AD; 957, 1044, 1406, 1544, 1660, 1752, 1775, 1782, 1784, 1785, 1794, 1796, 1798, 1799, 1811, 1930, 1938, 1942….
And after independence, major exoduses into neighbour countries were from years 1949/50, 1967/68, 1978 and 1991 to yet, …
(from The New Fortune news letter)
As a consequence of the invasion in 1784, the Burman King Bodawpaya conquered and incorporated the Arakan region into his kingdom of Ava in central Burma, the Arakanese including both Buddhist-Rakhines and Rohingya-Muslims had been refuged into what is now Bangladesh, which was then controlled by the British. They received assistances under British in that time. Such flow made today found many Arakanese Rakhines and Rohingyas in Bangladesh territory.
In 1942, the Japanese invasion during the British retreat to India, communal violence erupted. Attacks were made against those groups that had benefited from British colonial rule. Burman nationalists attacked Karen and Indian communities, while in Arakan Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya villagers attacked one another causing a displacement of Buddhist villagers to the south and Muslims to the north.
In Arakan, the British handed over the power to commissioner U Kyaw Khiang, ruled Martial law. British soldiers left arms reached to the hands of Rakhines and started blood-bathes against Rohingyas. The pogrom was staged by the order of Arakan state Tha-khin leaders and led by commissioner U Kyaw Khine.
Initially, the massacre stated in Chinbili village of Minbya township on 28 March and escapees about 15,000 Rohingyas were slaughtered on their arrival to Thaungyi Nyo. Again, about 10,000 Rohingyas who passed Apawa were also killed in the same way. On1st April, 15,000 Rohingyas were killed in Raichaung and Pankha villages of Myebon. It continued to Kyauknimaw of Rambree but saved in miraculous way. Rohingyas in Kyaukpyu were were given protection by British forces. On 8th April, continuously slaughtered in Kyauktaw, Mrohaung, pauktaw and Rathidaung. End of April, onslaught swept over Rathidaung and Buthidaung and three fourth of Rohingyas were killed. In Akyab, Rohingyas acquired arms and the conditions was both defensive and offensive operation under leader Sultan Mohammad. This campaign caused total 294 Rohingya villages destroyed, 100,000 Rohingyas massacred and some 80,000 Rohingya uprooted to Raungpur refugee camp of Bangladesh.
The region remained under Japanese control until a British offensive drove them out in 1945. Prior to the invasion, the British, seeking to bolster support for their forces, had promised the Muslims of northern Arakan a Muslim National Area, and some of the displaced returned with the British. However, the British government never delivered on its promise to create a Muslim National Area. (from AFK Jilani- The Muslim Massacre of 1942)
Considered illegal Pakistani immigrants: As a result of that, some 13,000 Rohingya living in refugee camps of India and Pakistan whence they had fled during the war, were unable to return; as for those who did manage to return, they were considered illegal Pakistani immigrants. The properties and land of all these refugees have been confiscated. The immigration authorities imposed limitations of movement upon Muslims from the regions of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung to Akyab [Sittwe]. The Muslims were not resettled in the villages from which they had been driven out in 1942 (with the exception of villages they left in the Maungdaw and Buthidaung regions).
In 1949 under Burma Territorial Force (BTF), organized in1949 to surpress the Rohingyas, most of them are exremist Rakhine community. The measures of BTF period and their brutality still shudders the conscience of every livig Rohingya till today. BTF unleashed a reign of terror in North Arakan under the director of U Kyaw Oo, the firebrand Rakhine Deputy Commissioner of Akyab district, killing hundreds of people and burning several villages, Thousands of Rohingyas were made homeless and nearly 50,000 had fled to the East pakistan. Maung Gri was the first commanding officer in 1950; Capt Saw Hla Aung was replaced and then transferred them to Union Military Police (UMP). There are many caeses of rape on innocent ladies were taken outside of their homes and taken away for some days and returned later. Even elderly women were not left untouched in the villages wher the BTFs and UMPs were moving. (From the Situation of Rohingya from Burma s Independence up to the Present)
1967/68 Ngazinka Operation in Kyauktaw, thousand were slaughtered, women were raped, properties and lands confiscated, destructed villages and ancient religious buildings. Many were escaped to Bangladesh and a few to Akyab, Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Paletwa. (Historian)
In 1978, the government initiated a program called Nagamin (King of Dragons)-a census operation to check identification cards and to take “actions against foreigners who have filtered into the country illegally.” While the program was nationwide in scope, in Arakan it degenerated into abusive attacks on Rohingyas by both the army and local Rakhines.
On Feb 6, the operation introduced firstly in the biggest Rohingya village Sakkipara of Akyab and started mass arrests and killings.
On 11 Feb, hundreds of Rohingyas from Akyab were loaded by ship and sank in Akyab-bay. On March, it reached at Buthidaung and Maungdaw and started rapes, killings, imprisonments.
In Kyauktaw, several ships led by department of immigration landed to load Rohingyas. Rohingyas resisted the immigration authority of Kyauktaw township’s order therefore some de-factor Rakhines collaborated with authorities and caused about hundreds Rohingyas deaths.
By May 1978, over 200,000 Rohingyas took shelter in makeshift camp erected by Bangladesh government. A few went to Malaysia whom continued to reside there with uncertainty.
Pyi Tha Ya Operation in 1991, Rohingya who had fled to Bangladesh were the first to report a dramatic increase in the number of soldiers being posted to northern Arakan state and a consequent upsurge in human rights abuses against Rohingyas.. As a stage of operation, the biggest Rohingya village Sakkipara/Thatkaybyin in Sittwe/Akyab, was demolished.
In May 1991, the first of some 100,000 Rohingya refugees had arrived in Bangladesh and the numbers raised at total 270,00 by March 1992, and increased as total 268,000 in the middle of 1992. Most of them were from Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathidaung and Akyab. Along the operation, hundreds of model village settlement had been located at the lands of Rohingyas in all over Arakan state.
The refugees told of summary executions, rape, and other forms of torture which they had witnessed or personally endured at the hands of the military. In most cases, the abuses took place in the context of forced labour: the Rohingyas were being forced to work as porters, build new army barracks, new roads and bridges, dig fish and prawn ponds, and cut bamboo for the military.
Killings and forms of arbitrary punishment of Rohingyas who found in travelling and others. Regarding this, The following sources were escalated from family members living both in exile and home;
18 Rohingyas from Kyauktaw were arrested in Taungkup-Ann township and beaten to death in 1992. One of the victim’s was Mr.Husein and his brother Mr.hassan now living in Norway.
12 Rohingyas from Maungdaw were arrested in Pann-mraung of Mrauk Oo by military regime-377 and executed in 1993.
12 Rohingyas of Kyauktaw township and two Chins, were arrested by military in frontier area of Namada village and brought to Paletwa township of Chin state in 1994. After an interrogation was made by senior Military Intelligence (MI-10) of Kyauktaw, U Myo Khin, 7 persons were shot dead by Colonel Aung Kyaw Thein in Nonbu village and the rest 7 persons were also shot dead by Sub-Commander in Roukchaung village. The report provided- ‘suspects found in black area were shot to death’.
More than thousand Rohingyas youth in Maungdaw were arrested by military and shot death in 1994/95.
In 1994/95, 11 Muslims of Kyauk-ni-maw were captured in Taungup and sank into the river after tied up and packed by gunny.
The rest of lucky groups who found by police were convicted up to 7 years with hard-work.
In the end of 1997, a group of Rohingyas 7 people from Sittwe/Akyab were arrested in Tandwe township and sentenced 7 years imprisonment under section 5/nya. Some of them were now living in China border after released from prison.
In 2000 June, One of the group was 7 persons including a family with 12yo child and mother were convicted 7 to 22 years jail.
In 2003, 15 Rohingyas from Akyab were arrested in Yangon and sent back to Sittwe/Akyab then sentenced 7 years imprisonment. Some of them were from the above-stated the first group of 7 people sentenced in end of 1997.
On 19 Sept 2008, 136 Rohingyas from Sittwe/Akyab were arrested in Rechanbyin village of Sittwe/Akyab when they are preparing for travelling. They were sent to prison without decision. Among them, 5 men were lifted to Yangon and 7 of their relatives living in Yangon were also detained and sent to Insein Prison. The rest who were in Sittwe/Akyab prison were detained about 6 months according to the state military command commander’s instruction and released by 1 to 3 Lakh Kyats payment as they had not departed from Sittwe area.
On 07 October 2009 in Kyauktaw, the immigration authority detained 30 Rohingya activists for their refusing TRC (Temporary Registration Card) identity.
A group of about 54 Muslims from Kyauknimaw were detained in Kyaukfru Prison since the end of 2009 after a confrontation was occurred between a man who travel to Kyaukfru and Immigration. The result of failing to report on time and expired the 3 days Temporary Travelling Permit (TTP). He was beaten brutally by military so that his relatives confronted with authority. The victim and his family have been escaped after the event but innocent traders and active headmen were arrested by the order of the state’s command commander. Their relatives based in Yangon had tried to rescued them by dealings with high ranking general of Yangon but failed and spent about 2 million Kyats. Finally, they all have been sentenced up to 20 years imprisonment by the court of Kyaukfru at the end of year 2010. (collecting more about this)
In Exile: since September 1992, there have been efforts to repatriate the Rohingya refugees residing in Bangladesh, and in August 1994 UNHCR adopted a program of mass repatriation in which thousands of Rohingyas returned to Burma each week. But, the repatriation program regardless of the situation both in home and exile, was agreed by UNHCR and Bangladeshi government where some selfishness Rohingya leaders also made similar proposal.
Fortunately, such kind proposal of repatriation of the only Rohingyas from neigh-boring countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh are going to be removed after repeated failures like before.
And boat people crises have been uploaded as a regional problem for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Thailand military definds Rohingya boatpeople as a threat to nation security and pushed back to international waters in early 2009, with providing no food and waters after taking off of the engines. The numbers of towed back believed to be about 12,00 Rohingyas where about 500 fared-dead.
……………………………..Current Abuses in Arakan……………………………
by World Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/2000/malaysia/maybr008-01.htm#TopOfPage
Conditions for Rohingya inside Burma today remain dismal. As Human Rights Watch has documented, the Burmese government continues to deny citizenship and its accompanying rights to most Rohingya, demand forced labor from Rohingya villagers, and arbitrarily confiscate their property.30 Because these abuses, which were the structural causes of the 1991-92 mass exodus, remain unresolved, new refugee flows persist and the reintegration of those who have returned to Burma is limited.
As we argue in the following chapters, the denial of citizenship rights to the Rohingya and the resulting discrimination provides powerful evidence that they are refugees and are, thus, entitled to protection in Malaysia and elsewhere. Yet, to date, their case has not been given the weight it merits. Moreover, although primary responsibility lies with Burma, the Rohingya’s lack of citizenship activates additional obligations on the part of both Malaysia and UNHCR in the face of Burma’s intransigence.
Denial of Citizenship and Accompanying Rights
The most critical issue is the Rohingya’s legal status in Burma. Most Rohingya who have been permitted to reside in Burma are considered by the Burmese authorities to be “resident foreigners,” not citizens. This lack of full citizenship rights means that the Rohingya are subject to other abuses, including restrictions on their freedom of movement, discriminatory limitations on access to education, and arbitrary confiscation of property. Denial of citizenship, and of the rights that go with it, pose serious obstacles to achieving a durable solution to the refugee flows.
Burma’s 1982 Citizenship Law was promulgated shortly after Rohingya refugees returned from the 1978 exodus and was designed specifically to deny citizenship to the Rohingya.31 The law designates three categories of citizens: (1) full citizens, (2) associate citizens, and (3) naturalized citizens. A person is issued a color-coded Citizenship Scrutiny Card consistent with his or her citizenship status-pink, blue, and green respectively. Full citizens are persons who belong to one of the “national races” (Kachin, Kayah (Karenni), Karen, Chin, Burman, Mon, Rakhine, Shan, Kaman, and Zerbadee) or those whose ancestors settled in the country before 1823, the beginning of British occupation of what is now Arakan State. If individuals cannot provide evidence that their ancestors settled in Burma before 1823, they may still be eligible for naturalization. Those persons who qualified for citizenship under the 1948 law, but who would no longer qualify under the 1982 law, are considered associate citizens if they applied for citizenship before the 1982 law went into effect. Following the implementation of the 1982 law, foreigners may become naturalized citizens if they can provide “conclusive evidence” that they or their parents entered and resided in Burma prior to independence in 1948. Persons who have at least one parent who holds one of the three types of Burmese citizenship are also eligible to become naturalized citizens. Beyond these two qualifications, Section 44 of the 1982 act stipulates that a person seeking to become a naturalized citizen must be at least eighteen years old, able to speak one of the national languages well (the Rohingya language, a dialect related to Chittagonian, is not recognized as a national language), of good character, and of sound mind.32 According to the terms of the law, only full and naturalized citizens are “entitled to enjoy the rights of a citizen under the law, with the exception from time to time of the rights stipulated by the State,” and associate and naturalized citizens do not have the right to stand as candidates in general elections.33 All forms of citizenship, “except a citizen by birth,” may be revoked by the state.
Provisions in the 1982 law perpetuate the citizenship crisis by denying citizenship to children born to non-citizens. In order for a child to attain Burmese citizenship, at least one parent must already hold one of the three types of Burmese citizenship.
The stipulations of the Burma Citizenship Law governing the right to one of the three types of Burmese citizenship effectively deny the Rohingya the possibility of acquiring a nationality. Although the Rohingya have history which links them to Burma since the eighth century, Burmese law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of Burma’s national races. Many Rohingya families migrated to and settled in Arakan during the British colonial period, which under the 1982 law, directly excludes them from citizenship. Even for those Rohingya whose families settled in the region before 1823, moreover, the onerous burden of proving it to the satisfaction of the Burmese authorities has made it nearly impossible for all but a handful to secure their Burmese citizenship. Rohingya who cannot provide “conclusive evidence” of their lineage or history of residence find themselves ineligible for any class of citizenship. And because of their formal legal status as resident foreigners, Rohingya are subject to restrictions on their freedom of movement, denied access to higher education, and restricted from holding public office.
Human Rights Watch has persistently called for the Burmese government to amend or repeal the 1982 Citizenship Law in line with recommendations made by the U.N. Special Rapporteur dealing with Burma, and to grant Rohingya full citizenship and accompanying rights.34 The special rapporteur has called on the Burmese government to “abolish its over-burdensome requirements for citizens in a manner which has discriminatory effects on racial or ethnic minorities.”35 UNHCR has also urged the government to review the law, perhaps within the context of the National Convention deliberations, and has offered to consider providing financial, technical, and legal support to assist the government in distributing Citizenship Scrutiny Cards.36 The current military government, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has made no progress, however, in addressing the legal obstacles to a sustainable return.
Because they are denied citizenship, Rohingya in Burma are considered resident foreigners, a legal status which subjects them to serious discrimination. The Burmese government restricts Rohingya’s travel within Arakan, to other parts of the country, and abroad. The restriction on movement, combined with arbitraryconfiscation of property, seriously hinders the Rohingya’s ability to seek work and to trade.37 The government reserves secondary education for citizens only, so the Rohingya do not have access to state-funded schools beyond the primary level. The Rohingya’s lack of citizenship also bars them from the civil service, so they cannot work as teachers or health workers, nor are they permitted to participate formally in government.
Forced Labor and Arbitrary Confiscation of Property in Burma
Local government authorities continue to require Rohingya to perform forced labor. Human Rights Watch was told that those who refuse or complain are physically threatened, sometimes with death, and that children as young as seven years old have been seen on forced labor teams. Use of child labor directly contravenes the Burmese government’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.38 The compulsory, unpaid labor includes work in state-run, profit-making industries and in the construction of “model villages” for non-Muslim migrants in Arakan. The Rohingya are often made to pay for the construction of model villages through the confiscation of their land, the provision of labor, and building materials. By contrast, Rakhine villagers in northern Arakan do not have to participate in these projects.39
In 1994, after lobbying from the UNHCR, Arakan state officials informally agreed to limit forced labor demands in northern Arakan to four days a month. This agreement, however, is not being honored in many communities. Rohingya report that Burmese military units have continued to conscript villagers for work without pay for more than of seven days a month on model villages, infrastructure projects, portering, and military camp maintenance. Both the U.N. Special Rapporteur and the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported in 1999 that the government has continued the practice of forced labor in many parts of Burma, especially in ethnic minority states.40 Although the Burmese government issued an order in May 1999 recommending that local authorities stop using forced labor, no significant reduction in its application has been reported.41
As in many parts of Burma with a high military presence, soldiers frequently require Rohingya villagers to provide them with rice and livestock. With the central government unable to provide fully for its 450,000 strong army, battalions have often turned to extortion and theft, as well as extracting forced labor. Extortion has manifested itself in the confiscation of food and demands for fees or bribes at checkpoints. Soldiers reportedly commit such abuses with impunity. According to Rohingya interviewed by Human Rights Watch, the combination of forced labor, seizure of land, arbitrary confiscation of property, and rice taxes have made Rohingya increasingly economically marginalized in Burma, further contributing to refugee outflows.
Because the conditions that have prompted refugee flows over the past decade have not been addressed, the Rohingya in Malaysia have reason to fear persecution should they return to Arakan. This overview makes clear that Rohingya in Burma are systematically denied the protections of citizenship and, as a result, are denied freedom of movement, education, and civil service positions. They are also subject to forced labor and thearbitrary confiscation of their property. This persistent violation of Rohingya’s rights has contributed to outflows from the region, including to Malaysia.42
Arakan’s Muslims: A Snippet,
Kuwait City, Shawwal 24//Jan 8 (IINA) – The military rulers of Burma (Myanmar) continues its repressive actions against the Muslims of Arakan Province, which is situated in the southwest of the country, and the repressive measures include the assassination of some individuals and the destruction of mosques.
Many have been displaced, and many have been forced to work in the construction of homes for the Burmese soldiers and their families, apart from using them in buildings roads and other facilities for the government.
After expelling the Muslims from their homes, the houses are allocated to Buddhists. Even Wakf (endowed) Muslim lands are confiscated, and the Muslims are denied freedom of movement within the country, and even travel outside the country. According to the amendment to the citizenship law that was effected in 1982, the Rohingya Muslims of Burma have been deprived of their Burmese citizenship, and therefore they could not involve themselves in business.
The Muslim women are subjected to rape, and they are not allowed to cover themselves with the Hijab, and many are forced to work in military barracks.
Apart from the destruction and desecration of mosques, the junta also sanctions the destruction of Muslim schools, Muslim cemeteries, and the detention of Muslim scholars.
The Rohingya Muslims are not allowed to organize themselves into political or social organizations, and no charitable or humanitarian organization is allowed to offer its services to them. Muslims are not allowed even to travel abroad for the Haj or to slaughter sacrificial animals during the Haj occasion.
Muslim young men and women in Burma are not allowed into any of its institutions of higher education, nor are they allowed to travel abroad in order to pursue further education, in addition to other forms of deprivation and harassment.
Muslims are even denied medical attention and treatment in government hospitals and clinics, and they are forced to abandon their Muslim names and adopt Buddhist ones.
Since 1991, the harassment of Muslims in Burma has been increasing by leaps and bounds, and this has forces many to take refuge in such neighboring countries as Bangladesh, where there are now not less than 300,000 living as refugees, but under very difficult and trying conditions. Many of them have had to return to Burma.
Arakan is separate from Buddhist Burma by a range of mountains called the Arakan Mountains, and their province is about 20,000 square miles in area, with Akyab as its provincial capital. It has a population of around 4,000,000, of whom 70 percent are Muslims, 25 percent Buddhists, and five percent made up of various faiths, including Christians and Hindus.
The Rohingyas take their name from the ancient name of Arakan, and Islam was introduced to it by Arab merchants who visited it in the first century of the Hijri calendar, followed by other waves of Muslim visitors, who brought with them, the Message of Islam. The response to the message was spontaneous, according to historians.
In 1406 AD, King Naramakhbala, who was the ruler of Arakan, was attacked by the king of Burma, and he had to take refuge with Sultan Nasiruddin Shah of Bengal, and, in the process, he embraced Islam 24 years later. He chose for himself the Muslim name Suleiman Shah, and was later able, with the help of his Bengal host, to regain his lost kingdom.
In 1420 AD, the first Islamic state was declared in Arakan, under the leadership of Suleiman Shah, of course, and for the next 350 years the country was ruled by one Muslim ruler or another. But in 1784 the country was once again attacked and occupied by Buddhist Burma, and when Britain took Burma in 1824, the Muslim population in Arakan was rendered weaker and weaker.
Then in 1948 Burma became independent from Britain, and despite all efforts to gain independence for Arakan as a separate state, those efforts did not meet with success. However, the Burmese Government of the time gave guarantees that the Arakanese would be afforded the right to self-determination.
But when the Burmese became stronger and sure of themselves as a sovereign state, such guarantees were thrown overboard, and let alone the right to self-determination being denied to the Arakan people, even their basic human rights have been flouted and violated. And since the military junta took power in Burma, matters have gotten even worse for the Muslims of Arakan, and everything is being done to cleanse the region of its Muslim population, and replace it with Buddhists.
The President of the Gulf-based Muslim Students’ Federation, Ibrahim Muhammad Atiqurrahman, told IINA that Myanmar’s Government demolished 72 mosques in the year 2001 alone. He added that there is now there is a new law the forbids the construction of new mosques or the repair and renovation of any old mosque, plus a rule that says that any mosques that was built within the last ten years should be pulled down.
Atiqurrahman went on to say that the government of Myanmar has now set up a committee to survey the Muslims of Arakan and their properties and other types of wealth, which committee has been imposing exorbitantly large tax assessments on them, and anyone who fails to pay up is jailed, unless he could pay a huge bride to the committee’s officials.
Even Arakan fishermen have not bee spared the oppression of the junta in Burma, and several get killed from time to time, simply because they are practicing their profession, though with legal permission from the concerned authorities.
In yet another effort to reduce the number of Muslims in the province, the Myanmar Government has passed a decree forbidding any male to get married before the age of 30, and a woman from being married away before she reaches the age of 25 years, according to Atiqurrahman.
But even if and when a couple wishing to get married reach the legal age, the marriage would not be sanctioned by the Marriage Bureau of the government, unless and until a proper bribe is paid to the official concerned with the issuance of such a permit, adds Atiqurrahman, who concluded by appealing to Muslims and Muslim governments and organizations to help their brethren of Arakan, in whatever way possible.
The Curse of Historical Rivalries in Arakan State of Burma,
by Rohingya Human Rights, http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/4275
For 3.5 million Rohingya Muslims of Arakan State of Burma, history has turned out to be an instrument to subject them to the worst human rights violations like denial of citizenship, a ban on marriage without government permission, severe restrictions of movement, religious persecution, extortion, land confiscation and restrictions on access to education etc. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which works in northern Arakan State and has also operated in the camps for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, has described the Rohingya as one of the ten world populations in danger of extinction.
However, turning the wheels of Rohingyas’ history backward and distorting the records of Rohingyas’ glorious past in the multicultural society Arakan which is traced back to the 7th century, the Burmese military regime and the majority of Rakhines of Arakan State brand the Rohingyas as the ‘Bengali immigrants’ alleging that ‘In the time of the British government, it was that the British brought Bengalis and Indians of India (now Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) into the nation with various intentions. ….The British ruled Rakine State (Arakan) for 123 years from 1827 to 1948. During that period, Bengalis entered the nation en masse.’ Ref: The New Light of Myanmar, a state-run news paper of the Burmese military regime, dated Jan 30, 2009.
The anti-Rohingya camps brand the Rohingyas as Bengali immigrants because of their close affinity with the neighbouring people of Chittagong of Bangladesh linguistically, religiously, culturally and physically. Notably, Rohingyas share Indo-Aryan physical features of dark and pale skin like the people of Bangladesh and India because of being the descendants of the people of the Indo-Aryan stock.
However, the focal point of the historical rivalries is whether the Rohingyas existed in ancient Arakan Kingdom before its annexation with the British colonial rule in 1827. Even though there is a tug-of-war between the Rohingyas and anti-Rohingya camps over many issues of the history of ancient Arakan, but at least there are few issues where there is an unequivocal consensus among the Rohingyas, the anti-Rohingya camps and the world historians. They unanimously agree that the names of many kings of the ancient Arakan before the British colonial rule, were ‘Muslim’ like (1) Solaiman Shah Narameikhla (1430-1434), (2) Ali Khan Meng Khari (1434-1459), (3) Kalima Shah Ba Saw Phyu (1459-1482), (4) Mathu Shah Doulya (1482-1492), ( 5) Mohammed Shah Ba Saw Nyo (1492-1493), (6) Nori Shah Ran Aung (1493-1494), (7) Sheikh Modullah Shah Salingathu (1494-1501), (8) Ili Shah Meng Raza (1501-1523), (9) Ilias Shah Kasabadi (1523-1525), (10) Jalal Shah Meng Saw Oo (1525), (11) Ali Shah Thatasa (1525-1531), (12) Salimshah (1608). All the historians including the anti-Rohingya camps also unanimously agree that all those kings used coins with Muslim inscriptions like Kalima ‘la-ilaha-illallah’, ‘Muhammedur Rasulullah’ etc.
This is irrefutable evidence that the Muslims existed in Arakan either as a ruler or as a predominant factor in ruling the ancient Arakan Kingdom. This is also an irrefutable evidence of the peaceful coexistence of all the people of Arakan irrespective of caste, creed or colour who have concentrated to defend the peace and prosperity of their motherland Arakan. So, it is quite illogical to raise a controversy as to whether those kings of Arakan were Muslims or simply used Muslim names and titles and coins under a tremendous Muslim influence.
Now, the question of ‘Rohingya’ name. The anti-Rohingya camps allege that the word ‘Rohingya’ has sprang up by 1950s and it was never heard before. But for one’s easy reference, here is a simple record of 1799th publication: ‘ A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire’ which was published by Francis Buchanan in 1799, in the fifth volume of Asiatic Researches. This piece provides one of the first major Western surveys of the languages of Burma. But the article goes beyond this and provides important data on the ethno-cultural identities and identifications of the various population groups of the ancient Arakan in terms of topography, history, antiquities, the condition of the inhabitants, religion, natural productions (particularly fisheries, forests, mines, and quarries), agriculture (covering vegetables, implements, manure, floods, domestic animals, fences, farms, and landed property, fine and common arts, and commerce (exports and imports, weights and measures, and conveyance of goods). Ref: SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research, Vol. 1, No., 1, Spring 2003, ISSN 1479-8484 (See here)
Dr Francis Buchanan, later known as Francis Hamilton or Francis Buchanan-Hamilton (15 February 1762 – 15 June 1892) was a Scottish physician who made significant contributions as a geographer, zoologist and botanist while living in India. From 1803 to 1804 he was surgeon to the Governor General of India Lord Wellesley in Calcutta.
However, in his article, Dr Francis Buchanan wrote: ‘I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan. The second dialect is that spoken by the Hindus of Arakan. I procured it from a Brahmen and his attendants, who had been brought to Amarapura by the king’s eldest son, on his return from the conquest of Arakan. They call themselves Rossawn, and, for what reason I do not know, wanted to persuade me that theirs was the common language of Arakan. Both these tribes, by the real natives of Arakan, are called Kulaw Yakain, or stranger Arakan.
The last dialect of the Hindustanee, which I shall mention, is that of a people called, by the Burmas, Aykobat, many of them are slaves at Amarapura. By one of them I was informed, that they had called themselves Banga; that formerly they had kings of their own; but that, in his father’s time, their kingdom had been overturned by the king of Munnypura, who carried away a great part of the inhabitants to his residence. When that was taken last by the Burmas, which was about fifteen years ago, this man was one of the many captives who were brought to Ava.
He said also, that Banga was seven days’ journey south-west from Munnypura: it must, therefore, be on the frontiers of Bengal, and may, perhaps, be the country called in our maps Cashar.’
Giving a record of the ‘Rooinga’ vocabulary, Dr Francis Buchanan mentioned 50 words spoken by the ‘Rooinga’ tribe by that time like: ( 1) Bel – Sun (2) Sawn – Moon (3) Tara – Stars (4) Kool – Earth (5) Pannæ – Water (6) Auin – Fire (7) Sheel – Stone (8) Bau – Wind (9) Jorail – Rain (10) Manush – Man (11) Meealaw – Woman (12) Gourapa – Child (13) Mata – Head (14) Gall -Mouth (15) Bahara – Arm (16) Hat – Hand (17) Ban – Leg (18) Pau – Foot (19) Zoomtroo – Beast (20) Paik – Bird (21) Maws – Fish (22) Goom – Good (23) Goom nay – Bad (24) Boddau – Great (25) Thuddee – Little (26) Botdean – Long (27) Banick – Short (28) Awg* – One (29) Doo – Two (30) Teen – Three (31) Tchair – Four (32) Pansoee – Five (33) Saw – Six (34) Sat – Seven (35) Awtoa – Eight (36) Nonaw – Nine (37) Dussoa – Ten (38) Kau – Eat (39) Karin – Drink (40) Layrow – Sleep (41) Pawkay Bayra – Walk (42) Boihow – Sit (43) Tcheilayto – Stand (44) Marim – Kill (45) Hoi – Yes (46) Etibar – No (47) Hayray – Here (48) Horay – There (49) Ouchalo – Above (50) Ayray – Below.
Notably, except four words e.g.; Ban, Thuddee, Tcheilayto and Etibar out of these 50 Rooinga words, all other 46 words are still commonly spoken by the Rohingyas of today’s Arakan and the people of Chittagong alike some ones with a little change of accent, object and area. So, this is irrefutable evidence that the word ‘Rohingya’ has originated from ‘Rooinga’, the name of a tribe of the Muslims of the ancient Arakan. It did not spring up like a mushroom in 1950s.
There is no denying the fact that the ancient Arakan was a multicultural society which was inhabited by many communities like the Rakhines, Rohingyas, Chakmas, Hindus, Christians, Mros, Khumis, Kamens and some hill tribes. In the words of Dr Shwe Lu Maung:“The Rakhaing King was the patron of all religions and culture. Siddikh Khan Mosque was built by the Rakhaing King in 1430 AD. It is the first Mosque in all Burma. I suggest that UNESCO may please take due action to restore this oldest Myanmar Muslim heritage. …. (1) The Rohingya issue is a cultural and political issue. (2) The politicians recognize the Rohingyas. I am a disciple of Bogri Kra Hla Aung and Chairman Kyaw Zan Rhee. I worked with them in 1966-67. We have about fifty Muslim comrades with us in Bogri’s party. Both leaders told me that we have to give due rights and recognition to the Muslim Nationals. As their disciple I recognize and respect the Rohingyas. (3) Presidents U Shwe Tha, U Maung Sein Nyunt, U Padi Phru, U Kyaw Hlaing,Dr. Khin Maung, Bo- Mhu Htun Kyaw Oo, Red Comrade Oo Khin Maung, Khaing Ahnar Ni are the politicians and they all recognize the Rohingyas. I also met General Khaing Raza with Dr. Yunus at Dhaka in 1991. I would assume that General Khaing Raza also recognizes the Rohingyas. Same conclusion applies to Commander Saw Tun who was killed along with General Raza.”
History is a mirror which reflects the past of a nation and in many cases it guides a nation to the road of peace and prosperity. In order to achieve peace and prosperity, it is immensely necessary to take care of only the positive and constructive events of the history and to bury the dirty ones.
Rivalries will beget rivalries and it will never solve the problem. This will simply poison the life of the people of Arakan not only for today but also for the future generations. So, in order to let peace prevail in Arakan and to restore communal harmony between two warring communities – the Rakhines and Rohingyas, it is extremely important to bury the course of historical rivalries and to initiate a politics of peace to create a society for all the people of Arakan which would be free from political oppression, economic exploitation and cultural slavery.