The solution of a problem is the problem itself; we should know the main causes of problem, analyze its effects on regional arena, then try to solve. A doctor can give effective treatment after diagnosing the patient’s history and symptoms of disease. Before we try to solve the Rohingya problem, we should know how it started, why it did start, who created that problem, what are the reasons behind the problem.
A Brief Historical Background of Rohingya
Francis Buchanan’s eye-witness account who was a surgeon in 1795 to the British Embassy in Ava, the Burmese capital, wrote about three dialects spoken: “The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans [Muslims], who have long settled in Arakan and who call themselves Roangiya[Rohingya] or native of Arakan.
In March 1942, the Maughs,Rakhine Buddhists started the massacre and driving away the Rohingyas with the intention of rooting out the Rohingyas of Arakan with the help of arms distributed by U KyawKhine and arms received from the deserted Karen soldiers who were on the way from Akyab persuaded by the Maughs to join them to root out the Rohingyas. This was started from Myebontownship, Kyaukpyu district. U Chit Pa, Ex-Member of Parliament of Minbya constituency in a speech in the Parliament Session of the 17th September 1950 opposing the creation of a new district comprising Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rahtedaung townships, had admitted that this was started by the Maughs. In this massacre thousands of Rohingyas( it is said that 80,000 of Rohigyas) were massacred and thousands of them were driven away mercilessly.
In 1947 Bo Letya the then Defense Minister paid a visit to Maungdaw, Buthidaung and he praised the Rohingyas for their loyalty and devotion to the Union. The Deputy Commissioner of Akyab district asked some Rohingya leaders and elders in the month of July 1948 to see the Mujahid leaders at Kyaundaung village of Buthidaung township where they camped and askedthem to withdraw their demand for State when the government would be willing to concede to the other demands such as citizenship as an indigenous race, their amnesty, establishment of their organization as a legal one.
On the 25th September 1954 U Nu stated, in a speech made over the radio about the introduction of the Religious lessons in the State schools, that in North Arakan there are two townships – Maungdaw and Buthidaung where most of the people are Muslims known as Rohingyas whose leaders asked him for arms to fight against the Mujahids.
Eradication of Rohingya Muslims
Actually, the eradication of Rohingya Muslims campaign started from the early 1940s. In 1942, nearly hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims were brutally murdered in Myohaungtownship, Minbya township, Pauktaw township, Kyawktaw, and PunnaKyune. As a result, a Rohingya Mujahidin Group raised voice against injustice attitude of Rakhineand Government.
After Burmese Independence in 1948, Rohingya got equal rights. Rohingyas were allowed in army, civil servant, education and in all the government sectors. Even Sultan Mahmud, our Rohingyas’ leader, had served as a health Minister during U Nu’s Parliament democratic cabinet of 1950s. The period of 1950 to 1962 was the golden era not only in Burmese history but also in Rohingyas’ history.
Unfortunately, notorious dictator General Ne Win seized power from U Nu by force in 1962 military coup, from that period, our suffering of Rohingya has already started, and persecution and oppression has been conducting by military dictators. Firstly, the right of broadcasting of Rohingya programs was banned, more over they were restricted and stopped issuing the National Registration Identity for Rohingya people, movement of Rohingya were strongly restricted even the social religious activities, traveling of Rohingya people from one place to another freely was also restricted, they forced the Rohingya people to flee to East Pakistan, Middle East, and Southeast Asia, they sinister motive was that they wanted us homeless, and then stateless.
The hardest time of Rohingya people in Arakan history
The hardest time for Rohingya people started when general Saw Maung seized power in 1988, in August 1991, Rohingya people were strictly banned travelling Rohingya from one place to another. Rohingya were kept widely solitary confinement, and denied access to education, health care, justice, social welfare and religious activities. The Government has consecrated the previously issued National Registration cards into White Identity Cards which are the temporary stay permits that denies our fully citizenship status. Then they so called chauvinist generals together with ultranationalist Rakhine Buddhist monks geared up persecution step by step. At present, very few Rohingya are in government servants.
In 1982, a draconian citizenship law was annexed to make the Rohingya Stateless. As a result, you could find 2.5 lakhs Rohingyas in Pakistan, more than 5 lakhs in Saudi Arabia, thousands are in jails and detention camps all over the world.
Analyzing the President Statement, Buddhist monks’ propagation, Rakhine ultranationalist political parties’ statement, it is crystal clear that they want to establish a pure Buddhist Rakhine State excluding of Rohingya Muslims. This is very similar to Hitler’s Nazi State, during last couple of crisis, thousands of Rohingyas were murdered , more than 120,000 were displaced, thousands of Rohingya were in prisons and police custody, hundreds of women were raped, killing and burning are happening everyday as a norms, with no ending in future, people are dying because of starvation and lack of medical care, we are completely helpless and hopeless waiting for our last breaths, still not sure where and how we will be killed soon, and we have no more place to bury.
There are thousands of people Rohingya in prisons of Arakan State, authority treat those prisoners in a inhumane way, torturing, beating, giving food without plate, let them to sleep on the ground without blanket and mattress, no medication, and let them to die, if they die, their family members are not allowed to bury their death bodies, people are dying every day.
Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya People
The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslim was started with a long time plan in the 1970s by the dictator Ne Win. He used divide and rule policy among the ethnic groups in order to keep his power . He was extreme nationalist and his main mission was Barmanization. He implemented that policy in the whole infrastructures of the country; religious, cultural, traditional, and, social differences are his main tools for division, discrimination, persecution, and cleansing.
There are three main groups who have been persecuting Rohingya people:
1. Myanmar dictators: in 1974, promoting the Rakhine State to Rakhine Buddhists, Government gave favor to Rakhine and forced Rohingya to resign all kinds of government staffs and servants, soon banned all Rohingya organizations, restricted Rohingya’s movements; social, political, and religious. Rohingya were not allowed to express them as Rohingya. Firstly, Government changed their name Rohingya to Muslim in the Family Registration Paper, later, changed it into Bangali. No one has a right to oppose it; all the immigration officers are Buddhists who write Rohingyas’ name whatever they want to write.
2. Rakhine Buddhists of Arakan: there are two types of Rakhine Buddhists; native Rakhine ,andAwakyunetha who came into Myanmar from Bangladesh after independence of Myanmar. Native Rakhines call them Awakyunetha to those BangaliRakhine in the beginning , there were also conflicts among them which resulted existence of different monasteries. Native Rakhine did not like the influx of BangaliRakhine, Awakyunetha but three decades later, they unified by highlighting the religion issue. Both Government and Awakyunetha persuade the Buddhists that there are many Muslim countries in the world but no Buddhist country, this country should be Buddhist .Soon most of Awakyunetha became police officers, immigration officers, and government servants. Awakyunetha brought with them hatred from Bangladesh, they are very aggressive, pessimistic, and eager to establish independence Rakhine Pray.
3. Rakhine Buddhist of Bangladesh: all Rakhine Buddhists living in Bangladesh have been working only for Rakhine State. They are strong supporters of Rakhine Pray, independence Rakhine State. There are a lot of websites running by BangaliRakhine such as Narinjarin, and Rakhita Media Group which main propaganda is to clean Rohingya people from Rakhine’s ground and make Rakhine Pray as non Muslim State.
These three groups have been continuously and constantly persecuting Rohingya people with the support of polices immigrations, government servants, and military for many decades. Some new generation of Rohingya do not know that they are Rohingya, most of them do not know the reason of being persecuted, and believe that being Muslim is the main reason because Marma ,Sakmak, and Indian Hindu who are Buddhists get full national right and safe. Marma, Sakmak, and Indian Hindu in the Arakan State are identical with Rohingya in terms of language, culture, and complexion; only religious difference , as all Rohingya are Muslims.
We due respect, we would like to draw your kind and sympathetic attention, regarding above mentioned matters.We are going to appeal honestly regarding Rohingya issue of Myanmar in order to find out a reasonable solution, which is very important to save Rohingyas. Myanmar Government and Rakhine State authority have been systematically annihilating Rohingya’s generation since military coup of Dictator General Ne Win. We have been living in Arakan State since 8th century but Myanmar government has been trying to wipe out of Rohingyas from our ancestral land, Arakan State. Without International help, Rohingyas’ existence will be disappeared very soon. We appreciate your contribution and your kindly help for our survival.
Current situation of Rohingya in Arakan State is worse than a Doomsday Scenario, more than genocide and ethnic cleansing. It is a systematic planning of being Buddhist State of Rakhine , non-Muslim State, by the ultranationalist Rakhine Buddhists. Very recently, the President of Rakhine National Development Party(RNDP), Dr. Aye Maung said in an interview with Venus Journal that Rakhine State will be similar to Israel very soon, Rakhine State should be for Rakhines only.
We are deprived of all fundamental human rights including social, religious, educational,
political ,health care ,and cultural rights. We are not allowed to attend the schools, to travel one place to another.
Authentic historical evidences has acknowledged our existence since 8th century, all of our historical monuments, and historical Mosques were destroyed and attempted to clear our history.
Arakan State should be for all Arkanese ; all ethnic groups should live peacefully, harmoniously, and respect each other, recognize each other, everyone in the Arakan State should contribute for the development of Arakan State.
Arakan is a Persian word which is still living in Rohingya language, Arkanese includes all ethnics groups living in Arakan State.Arakanese Muslims were called in many different ways; Muslims, Mohamaden, Muhamedan, Bagalis, Chittagonian,Rohan, Roshan but the word Rohingya was used in 1732 for the first time.
Ref: 1. Churchill, collection of voyages and travels London 1732, Vol-6, page-697
2. The Classical Journal for September and December 1811, vol-4, London, Page- 107
Before Myanmar independence, Rakhine were called Magh, Mog,andRakasha, the word Rakhine was used officially after 1974 when they were promoted to Rakhine State, they changed Arakan to Rakhine. Thousands of RakhineBangali Buddhist entered Rakhine State illegally and were legalized by Rakhine immigrations.
According to historical facts, Rohingya population should be 4 million based on 1% natural rate but now, UN estimated Rohingya population nearly one million.
There were several operations in which Myanmar immigration officers took Rohingyas’ identity cards and Family Registration Papers , as a result, thousands of refugees fled to Bangladesh, several time, Myanmar government received those refugees as Myanmar citizens. Border are strictly closed for Rohingya , Na Sa Ka, Military, and special polices are kept along the border. Rohingya are not allowed to move one village to another. There are thousands of Rohingya refugees all over the world; Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Middle East.
We are Rohingya ,Rakhine and dictators have been trying to make us Bangali but have not succeeded yet. Magh became Rakhine after 1974. Thousands of ethnic groups in world gave their name by themselves, we have right to give the name of our own children. That is our natural right. Myanmar history proved thousands of evidences that origin of Myanmar ancestors were from Indian subcontinent, later Mogolians and Tibeto- Barman occupied Myanmar. The names of more than 140 ethic races did not come down from the sky.
There should be two types of solutions; immediate solution and long term solution:
Nearly one million Rohingyas in 14 townships ofArakan State, Myanmar ,are starving; they are not allowed to buy anything from the markets, they are not allowed to move one place to another, some aid groups could hardly reach to provide limited ration only in Sittwe, NGOs, and other groups who want to help Rohingyas in other parts of Arakan State are not allowed to go there by local authority, and Rakhine Buddhists. Rohingyas have no way to survive; especially children and aged people are dying every day. No reliable media group gets permission to discover the destiny of Rohingyas. At least UN Peace Keeping forces should intervene to save Rohingya people.
We appreciate international organizations wholeheartedly for their material and spiritual aids, and their contribution to find out the solution but we are quite sure that materials and spiritual help could not solve our problem permanently, it could be only temporary solution. It is not a humanitarian crises but a political crises created by the central government of Myanmar together with ultranationalist Rakhine Buddhist monks and regional Rakhine political parties in order to push out of us from our ancestral land of Arakan.
Rohingyas’ outcry and demand
In above points of views, we came to a conclusion that without international peace keeping forces, these crises will never be solved and no internal peace will be maintained here in our Arakan State.
We are also very much afraid that another Bosnia will be born in Arkan State very soon. Could you please consider our case sincerely and profoundly? We need UN and International Communities’ assistance , without their contribution,Rohingyas’ existence will be uncertainty.
We appeal for immediate action to rescue the victims from this serious genocide, ethnic cleansing especially US, UN, and Asian should consider to send international peace keeping force and an independent and impartial inquiry commission to investigate the crime against humanity and restore our Rohingya ethnic rights.
Before independence, Burmese people did not belong to any identity card, there were two types of identity cards after independence: citizen and foreigner, after the military coup of 1962 by dictator Ne Win he classified many groups; in the name of ethnic, discrimination and oppression were initiated by the dictators. In Myanmar, there should be only two types of identities; citizen and foreigner, if the government classifies into three such as ethnic, citizen, and foreigner, then Rohingya should be in the ethnic group, otherwise the problem will never stop in future.
Zaw Lwin Oo