Sunday 15 July 2012

Origins of the Rohingya people and the Human Rights Situation in Burma

by Abid Bahar PhD,

Historically speaking, Rohingya people of Burma had heterogeneous origins: They had their origin in the indigenous Chandra people of Arakan, followed by the medieval Persian and Arab soldiers led by Wali Khan and Sind Khan from Gaur who came to help restore Noromikhla, the king of Arakan and settled in the Kaladan valley. The third flow was the decedents of the Mogh captured Bengali slaves settled in the Mrauk U area in Arakan. Among the Rohingyas there are some Rakhine and Portuguese blood as well. Rohingyas are not the British time settlers from India in Rangoon as some xenophobes and anti Rohingya people might think.(1) Despite their origin from different groups, it seems their sense of common suffering in Arakan made them into a people, they call Rohingya. The first trace of them  and their language was recorded in 1799 by Francis Buchanon, a British historian visiting Burma, this was long before the British occupation of Burma. (2)

Rohingyas are neither orgies, nor Islamic terrorists, as claimed by certain xenophobes and politically motivated elements. Rohingyas are Burmese people of Arakani origin who happen to be racially different from the mainstream Burmese people.(3)  In this border land across from Arakan, in Bangladesh we see the existence of  racially different people than Bengalis. There are the Rakhine Mogh, Marma, Chakma, and the Tanchangyas of Bangladesh live in Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts. Rakhine Moghs in Bangladesh happen to be the British time settlers. They all are rightfully Bangladeshi citizens.(3)

Myanmar’s President recent statement that "Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by the United Nations" is racially motivated and certainly outrageous. (4)Now that Thein Sein, a former General confessed his stand on how to solve the Rohingya issue, the suspected involvement of the government security forces in the June machete massacre is increasing becoming clear. The problem to the international community and the UN is that if this trend  of ethnic cleansing in Burma allowed to continue, many other countries will follow this trend to cause huge refugee problems.

Lately, new information has come to the surface that the culprits in the recent racial provocations leading up to this human tragedy was supervised by a Rakhine racist named Aye Chan and the destructions committed by his hoodlums in Arakan. To restore faith in the government reforms, these culprits must be officially identified by the international body and Burmese government should be reminded that human rights for one group of people and not for others is neither about democratic reforms nor a matter of improvement in human rights.

Strangely, Suu Kyi, the Nobel Laureate remained unusually silent in this national tragedy. Many international observers question why Suu Kyi is silent when her father Aung San, and U Nu, the first democratically elected PM recognized Rohingyas as Burmese citizens.  Unfortunately, in the recent Rohingya tragedy, to our utter surprise Suu Kyi we believed a democrat at heart didn't react to Thein Sein's recent xenophobic recommendations.(6)  Suu Kyi at times even acted more like a Myanmar's opportunist politician than an International human rights leader, ignoring her international responsibility.  It is time that she should speak up loud for the Rohingyas so that the international community can hear her continued commitment to the oppressed humanity, so that in her voice Rohingyas find their shelter in the country of their birth.

(Dr. Abid Bahar, author of Burma's Missing Dots-The Emerging Face of Genocide, Xlibris, 2010. The book deals with Burma's  ethnic problems in general and Rohingya issue in particular.)


(1) For more details on this and more please see The Muslim “Rohingya” of Burma by Martin Smith 1995 Arakan Rohingya National Organisation; Abid Bahar, book, Burma's Missing Dots,The Emerging Face of Genocide Xlibris, 2012

(2) Francis Buchanon,"A Comparative vocabulary of some of the languages spoken, in the Burmese empire"SOAS, p. 40-57.

(3) Abid Bahar, book, Burma's Missing Dots, Xlibris, 2012

(4) Francis Wade, Burma 'creating humanitarian crisis' with displacement camps in Arakan
Aid groups fear Rohingya minority being starved into fleeing country as they struggle to reach those hit by sectarian violence; MESSAGE TO... MYANMAR HACKERS

(5) Moshahida Sultana Ritu, Why Is the World Ignoring the Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will be approved soon and your email will not be published.. thanks..