Rebuttal to U Khin Maung Saw’s misinformation on Rohingya
Nurul Islam (U.K.)
02 November 2011
During recent years we have read series of depraved propagandas by a group of fanatics, who are restless to tarnish the image of the Rohingya people, under the pretext of so-called scholars/academics/Burmese experts preaching annihilation of the Rohingyas, a predominantly Muslim community in Arakan, Burma. One of them is U Khin Maung Saw, a Rakhine Buddhist living in Berlin, who recently wrote a foul-mouthed and blasphemous paper titled Islamization of Burma Through Chittagonian Bengalis as “Rohingya Refugees”.
The very title is disgusting where U Khin Maung Saw accuses the ethnic Rohingyas of illegal Bangladeshis and their refugees of ‘not genuine but illegal immigrants’. On top of that he makes cry wolf about islamization of Burma with 55 million population by a small neglected and underprivileged Rohingya community. His work is packed with false propagandas, make-believe stories, fantasized history and inflammatory writings that transmit the odor of ‘systematic racism’ and ‘Muslim Phobia’. It is an effort for Rakhinization, Buddhistization and de-Muslimization of Arakan through extermination of the Muslim Rohingya population using the oppressive state apparatus of the military regimes that emerged from 1962 in various shapes and manifestations, the last being the current civilianized military government of U Thein Sein. .
The two pictures on the front page of U Khin Maung Saw’s paper:
The two pictures U Khin Maung Saw put on the front page of his paper are not in accord with the title. Both pictures speak themselves. The upper one is a picture of rescued distress Rohingya boat people praying in a place of their refuge in Indonesia, while the second one is a picture of the Rohingya freedom fighters. It seems that these two pictures have invited his extreme anger. The pictures are related to religious practice and self-defence against persecution. In no way it relates to so-called islamization.
The fable of camel
U Khin Maung Saw’s fable of camel depicts that he escapes into a world of fantasy. The story does not relate with the Rohingya people, the sons of the soil of Arakan. It reveals that he extremely hates the Muslim Rohingyas and incites, aides and abets communal strife or crimes in Arakan. But Rohingyas are as much citizens as anyone else in Burma. Neither they are aliens nor do the Rakhines have special privileges over them. They believe in peaceful co-existence. They regard the hate-mongers as evils of the society.
Islamization of Burma, a monomania of U Khin Maung Saw
U Khin Maung saw often misquoted the word “islamization”, may be due to his lack of understanding of Islam. Religious enlightenment among the Muslim society is not islamization, but recommended prayers. The Muslim Rohingyas are peace-loving; they love to preach their religion, but they don’t impose it. They have long been subjected to criminal atrocities and crimes against humanity of various kinds on daily basis perpetrated by the state and non-state actors. They are living in subhuman condition as ‘stateless” within Burma and ‘refugees’ beyond its borders. How this dying-alive small negligible oppressed and persecuted people could islamize the 55 million people of Burma. U Khin Maug Saw proves himself to be a xenophobe as well as an islamophobe who is trying to reap benefit from the global sentiment against the Muslims and Islam particularly after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on United States by trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. No sensible man will believe this made-up story.
Rohingya people and their ethnic origin
The Rohingya with bona fide historical roots in the region have evolved with distinct ethnic characteristics in Arakan from peoples of different ethnical backgrounds over the past several centuries. Arakan sits on a line dividing Hindu-Muslim Asia and Buddhist Asia. Genealogically Rohingyas are Indo-Aryan descendants. Genetically they are an ethnic mix of Bengalis, Indians, Moghuls, Pathans, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Moors and central Asians. They are in South Asian appearance in contrast to Southeast Asian, and have developed a separate culture and a mixed language, which is absolutely unique to the region, reflecting this geographic reality and trueness of Arakan. The Muslim settlements in Arakan date back to latter part of 7th century C.E. Rakhines are last significant group of people to come to Arakan and are an ethnic mix of the Tibeto-Burman.
Arakan found itself at the crossroad of two worlds: south Asia and Southeast Asia, between Muslim-Hindu Asia and Buddhist Asia, and amidst the Indo-Aryan and Mongoloid races. During its days as an independent kingdom until 1784, Arakan encompassed at times the Chittagong region in the southern part of today’s Bangladesh. Historically, it has more interaction with the region now comprising Bangladesh than Burma. Particularly “the Arakanese kings became the master of Chittagong and remained so for the next eighty years, until 1666 A.D. when the Moghul Viceroy Shaista Khan finally conquered Chittagong.”
The northern part of Arakan, today called the “North Arakan” was point of contact with East Bengal. These geographical facts explain the separate historical development of that area – both generally and in terms of its Muslim population until the Burmese king Bodaw Paya conquered it on 28th December 1784.”[2
Various historians and scholars have recorded that Islam began to spread from the eastern bank of Meghna River (in Bangladesh) to Arakan since eight and ninth centuries, that is long before the establishment of Muslim kingdom in this frontier region. Since then the Muslim influence in Arakan grew fast and was consolidated fully by 17th century. Arakan was virtually ruled by the Muslims from 1430 to 1531. ‘Establishment of God’s rule over the earth’ was the state emblem of Arakan. Coins and medallions were issued inscribing “Kalema” (the profession of faith in Islam) in Arabic script. Even Buddhist women of those days practiced “purda”.
Traditionally the Burmese kings were envious of Arakan and its people. They attacked Arakan whenever there was a chance whereupon its kings, nobles and even commoners took refuge in Bengal. The Bengal kings looked after them and helped them regained their throne from the hands of the aggressors, Burmans and Mons etc. The Burman invasion of Arakan in 1784 was by invitation from some royal traitors, all of them Buddhists. These conspirators persuaded the Burman King Bodaw Phaya making a mountain out of a molehill that the invading forces would be welcomed by the people with melody.
The Burman invading forces tortured and massacred both Buddhists and Muslims and pillaged all its resources, including royal library. Muslims were specifically targeted for (i) the last king Thamada was from the commoners, and Muslims played a phenomenal rule of kingmakers (ii) Muslim nobles did not support the Burman invasion (iii) Muslim Bengal used to help the kings, nobles, and people of Arakan with shelter, moral and material assistance and armies to regain their throne from the hands of the occupiers, (iv) Arakan had turned into a Sultanate and Islamic civilization and Muslim culture flourished to its zenith with Persian and Bengali as official and court languages of Arakan, (v) Muslims played important role in the country’s administration and defence; and Prime Minister and Lashkar Wizir (War Minister/Defence Minister) mostly happened to be Muslims with sizeable Muslim administrators, judges, artisans and armed forces. As such, not only Buddhists, but also a number of Muslims took refuge in Bengal.
Dr. Shwe Lu Maung writes, “In 1403 CE, the Rakhaing King Narameit Hla took refuge with Sultan Ghiasuddin Azam Shah (1399-1409), at Gaur. …After 27 years of his service as minister and soldier, Sultan Jalal Uddin (r.1415-1433 CE), a Hindu convert Muslim, gave him a 30,000 strong Muslim army to restore his throne in Rakkhapura. Why a Muslim army? Because there virtually was no Rakhaing of prime age left to be soldiers. Such was the history. Again in 1784 the Myanmarese invaded and depopulated our Rakhaing kingdom. How many were killed? Exact head count is not known, but the Rakhaing historians assert that some 250,000 were killed.”
The Burmese administered Arakan from 1784 to 1825 A.D. but taught nothing to the people of the country. The fall of Mrauk-U was a mortal blow to both Rohingyas and the Maghs for everything that was materially and culturally Islamic was razed to the ground and hundreds of Rohingyas were brutally killed. Two hundred thousands are said to have fled to Bengal. U Khin Maung Saw stated Rakhine refugees to be 40,000. Here, the number of Muslim Rohingya refugees can be estimated to be more than Rakhine. On top of that the precious and sentimental Mahamuni Buddha image, to which the Buddhist Arakanese have religious attachment, was carried to Mandalay. The Rakhines look upon it as a premonition.
The people of Arakan take the Burman invasion of their country as a reprehensible development. Of course, British colonialism was blameworthy for its colonial rule, economic exploitation and infamous ‘divide and rule policy’ in Burma. “On the other hand, British occupation brought Bhama domination and oppression to an end. This gave an opportunity to smaller ethnic groups to build up their social, cultural, educational and economic institutions….There appeared a common sense for unity in the struggle for independence. For the first time in the thousand years of rivalry and domination of wars, the people of Burma started to try to sink their mutual hatred and discrimination and to forge unity.”
But the Burmese rule over Arakan, supported by local xenophobes or islamophobes, implanted deep-seated hatred, with inherited divide and rule stratagem, between the two otherwise peaceful living Rohingyas and Rakhines, on cultural and religious lines, thus putting the two sister communities permanently at loggerheads the burnt of which is to be born by generations. Had not Arakan been invaded and occupied by the Burmans at the invitation of royal conspirators, the people of Arakan would have emerged as an independent nation again at the end of the British colonization or through decolonization. One can hardly agree with U Khin Maung Saw’s assertion that the British did more damages to Arakan and its people than the Bodaw Phaya’s invading forces.
One cannot appreciate the actual history of Arakan and its people without studying the relations between Arakan and Chittagong or Bengal. It is not unnatural that the Rohingyas resemble Chittagonians. U Khin Maung Saw and critics have no good reason to be critical of this resemblance to tag the Rohingyas as foreigners/illegal immigrants/non-nationals. This is a decayed outlook not based on ‘Arakan reality’. The relations between Arakan and Chittagong are based on historical, geo-political and ethnological considerations. The following events, which contribute to the development of Rohingya people in Arakan, are worth mentioning.
1. Arakan and Chittagong have intertwined history. Historically it has more interaction with the west, i.e, the region now comprising Bangladesh, than the east i.e. Burma. During its days as an independent kingdom until 1784 A.D., Arakan encompassed at times the Chittagong region in the southern part of today’s Bangladesh. “Because of the political, cultural and commercial links between those two territories, Arakan used to be called ‘extended Chittagong’.”
2. From the ancient to the seventeenth centuries A.D. Chittagong had been conquered by Arakan for several times. The Chittagong region was under the Vesali kingdom of Arakan during the 6th to 8th centuries and under the Mrauk U kingdom of Arakan in the 16th and 17th centuries. This Vesali kingdom was known as easterly Hindu kingdom of Arakan. “Arakan was then an Indian land, its inhabitants being Indians similar to those resident in Bengal.” That means they closely resemble the Rohingyas, not the present day Rakhines who bear a resemblance to Burmans.
3. Indigenous historians affirm that “Arakan was virtually ruled by Muslims from 1430 to 1531.” During this time a large number of Muslims particularly from Chittagong migrated and settled in Arakan.
4. Chittagong has been a seaport since ancient times. It attracted peoples from various regions of the world. These international contacts left a lasting impact on the language, religion and culture of the city. The people of the city were diverse and multi-ethnic, and the native Bengali and Tibeto-Burma populations have had significant influence from Arab, Afghan, and Mughal traders and settlers, all of whom had travelled in the city after arriving on its shores many hundred years ago. It was “a place of the first importance and the master key to the whole Magh Empire.”
5. In 1248, during the reign of Menthi, when Chittagong rose in revolt again the Arakanese not only suppressed it up to Lauchipura but also carried 47500 captives as slaves.
6. During the Arakanese rule over Chittagong, the woeful piratical activities and slave trade of Magh-Firingi reached to peak. Harvey said in a single month, February 1627, they carried 1,800 captives from southern parts of Bengal.
7. In 1644 alone, the army of Narapathigri (1638-1645) brought about 60,000 Bengalis who were resettled in Arakan as royal service groups. Quite big number of these captives were Muslims. The Muslim slaves retained their religion whereas the captive Hindus hastened to assimilate among the Buddhists of Arakan. Some of these captive slaves were settled in special areas guarded by Muslim soldiers.
8. With the consolidation of Muslim rule in Chittagong Muslims of other parts of Bengal as well as foreign Muslims like Turks, the Pathan, the Mughals made their permanent residence there. Those foreign Muslims also founded settlements in Arakan contributing to the development of Rohingya society.
9. The conquest of Chittagong by Moghal commander Shaiasta Khan and his son Buzurg Umad Khan in 1666 had changed in the political landscape between Arakan and Chittagong or Bengal. “Saista Khan had conquered up to the Kaladan River. The Arakanese had fled beyond Kaladan River while the Bengal southern border was fixed at the west bank of Naf River or Kaladan River. There is historical observation that “Buzurg Umed Khan had conquered whole Arakan but retreated soon” as they had no territorial ambition on Arakan.
10. During Arakanese rule the literary activities and cultivation of Bengali literature attained further development both in Chittagong and Arakan. “Politically, Chittagong was subjugated by Arakan, but culturally it was Arakan which was greatly influenced by a stronger culture and a more powerful language. Existence of three languages, Bengali, Persian and Arakanese is not a new phenomenon in the region of Chittagong-Arakan. All three languages were used in the coins of the provincial governors of Chittagong functioning under the administration of Arakanese governors.
11. Regarding Muslim Arakanese or Rohingya Anthony Irwin, a front line British officer in Arakan during Second World War states, “They are generally known as Bengalis or Chittagonians, quite incorrectly, and to look at they are quite unlike any other product of India or Burma that I have seen. They resemble the Arab in name, in dress and in habit. The women and more particularly the young girls have a distinctive touch about them…..As a race they have been here for over two hundred years…They are living in a hostile country, and have been for hundreds of years, and yet they survive.”
12. The British military commands recorded the Muslim Rohingyas as “Arakanese” and catalogued the Rakhine Buddhists as “Maghs”.
13. After 1824, when the British took over the administration of Burma, law and order situation returned to normal in Arakan. The Arakanese Muslims and Buddhists who took refuge in Bengal during Burmese rule began to return to their homeland (Arakan) after a span of more than 40 years. But many of their relatives were left behind in Bengal of which the Muslims are till today known as ‘Roai’. “Many people in southern Chittagong are of Arakan origin and that almost all people inhabiting the area from Chakaria down to Teknaf are speaking in “Roai dialect”.
14. The influx of refugees form Arakan into Bengal has almost been an intermittent phenomenon in Burma’s history due to either Mongolian or Burman invasion of Arakan or post colonial internal control problems and planned extermination of the Rohingyas. “This resulted in the development of different ethnic groups in Chittagong of present Bangladesh, such as the Chakmas, Mogh, Baruas, and the Rohingyas.”  Still the flight of Rohingyas from Arakan into Bangladesh is daily continuing because of persecution against them.
15. The heyday of Arakan began with the spread of Muslim civilization there. Because of its strategic importance, as the most prosperous region with a internationally linked cosmopolitan port city, the greatness of Arakanese empire began with the occupation of Chittagong, and with the loss of it Arakan’s superiority collapsed.
16. For long time, there was no fixed political boundary between Arakan and Chittagong. But the two territories embraced each other under the same rule for considerable period of time allowing the two peoples their historic rights to freely choose their homes either in Chittagong or Arakan or double homes and citizenship in both territories. In the similar pattern the Rohingyas and Rakhines/Maghs/Marmas also inhabit in southern Chittagong.
17. If Magh people can be Rakhine after the name of Rakhine Pree, then again if this same people can be ‘Marma’ in Chittagong Hill Tracts, why the Rohingya who had developed in Arakan from peoples of various ethnical backgrounds over the several centuries cannot be ethnic ‘Rohingya’ after the name of “Rohang”. A Rohingya is a name historically attributed to the Muslim Arakanese.
18. The term “Rohang/Roang/Roshang” is an old name of Arakan. Arab historian Rashiduddin named the country as Rahan in 1310 CE. The Tripura chronicle Rajmala mentioned it as “Roshang’. The celebrated 17th century Arakan court poet Shah Aloal, who was also the captain of the Royal Guard of the then Mrauk U king, mentioned the country as the “Kingdom of Roshang/Rosango”, its change to the present form “Rohingya” comes after the name of the country Rohang/Roang/Roshang” or derives from the word “Roshangee/Roain” all meaning inhabitants of Rohang. In the medieval Bengali works and Rennell’s map the name is written Roshang. In colloquial Chittagonian dialect the country is called Rohang, “sh” being replaced by “h”.
19. Dr. Michael W. Charney, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, writes, “the earliest recorded use of an ethnonym immediately recognizable as Rohingya is an observation by Francis Buchanan in 1799. As he explains, a dialect that was derived from Hindi (which comes nearest to the Hindustani spoken on the Ganges) “…is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long been settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Roainga, or native of Arakan”. He further mentions, “it can be asserted, however, that one claim of the Buddhist school in Rakhaing historiography, that Rohingya was an invention of the colonial period, is contradicted by the evidence.” Thus the ruling Burmese regime and some prejudiced Rakhines who allege that there had never been the word ‘Rohingya’ in the history and that the term ‘Rohingya’ is a creation of some insurgents is nothing but a conspiracy to deny Rohingya’s ethnic rights in Burma.
Rohingya language and culture are indigenous to Arakan
U Khin Maung Saw ridicules that Muslim Rohingyas’ not knowing or learning Rakhine and Burmese languages is one of the reasons of their rejection in Arakan or Burma society. But the Rohingyas have an isolated way of life in northern Arakan, constituting 85-95% population of the area. Nevertheless, they have strong aspiration to know and to speak the Burmese as an official language in addition to their own. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm could not turn up for lack of scope for schooling and various handicaps. Their access to education is under humiliating restrictions due to policies of discrimination, exclusion and extermination of the regime against them, which have been actively reinforced by local xenophobes or Islamophobes. Let us look into the following situation.
- U Khin Maung Saw takes no notice of the fact that the Rohingya language is one of the ancient languages closely related to the language used as a common language in Arakan.
- Burma is an ethnically diverse country. All its peoples aspire to rebuild it a Federal Union on the agreed upon principle of ‘unity in diversity’, which pledges federal democracy, human rights, respect for the difference and peaceful co-existence.
- For not knowing Burmese or Rakhine language one cannot be an alien. In the case of Hasan Ali and Meher Ali (Criminal Miscellaneous Applications No. 155 and 156 of 1959 of Supreme Court), their Lordships of the Supreme Court remarked (abridged): -
“Today in various parts of Burma there are people who, because of their origin and isolated way of life, are totally unlike the Burmese in appearance or speak of events which had occurred outside the limits of their habitation. They are nevertheless statutory citizens under the Union Citizenship Act….Thus mere race or appearance of a person or whether he has knowledge of any language of the Union is not the test as to whether he is a citizen of the Union. It may also be mentioned here that the citizenship rights of natural born citizen may not be revoked. A natural born citizen is one who becomes a citizen by the fact of his birth.”
- The present day Rakhine “could not be genealogically the same as to the people of Dannya Waddy and Wethali dynasties. Those early people were Aryan in descends. They claimed to be chanda Bamshi, descendants from the moon. After all they are Indians, very much like to the people of Bengal. The scripture of those early days found in Arakan indicate that they were in early Bengali script and thence the culture there also was Bengali.”
- The Rakhines were the last significant group to come to Arakan. Dr. Aye Chan, who is a Rakhine, states “It is further true before Mrauk-U age writing language of Arakan was Sanskrit with Nagairi characters. During the early period not a single inscription, in our present day speaking Rakhine language was found.
- In ancient times, Arakan was very much an extension of northern India. The Chandra dynasty that ruled over the principalities Vesali and Dhanyawaddy claimed descent from the Hindi god Shiva while also patronizing the Mahayana schools of Tibet and Bengal. But in medieval times there was a reorientation eastward; the area fell under Pagan’s dominance, and Arakanese people began to speak a dialect of Burmese, something that continues to this day. With Burmese influence came ties to Ceylon and the gradual prominence of Theravada Buddhism.
- Rakhine politician U Hla Tun Pru states “Arakanese (Rakhines) and Burmese have affinities of blood, language and alliance between them indeed.” U Khin Maung Saw also affirms it in his writings. “In old Burmese the name Rakhine first appeared in slave names in the inscriptions of 12th century.  [Here Dr. S.B. Kanango, a Bengali researcher said the name Rakhine was given by Burman and it was found in 12th to 15th century stone inscriptions of Tuparon, Sagaing].
- When in 1404 the kingdom of Ava invaded Arakan, the then king, Naramithla also known as Min Saw Mun (1404-14340), fled west to the Bengali royal city of Gaur, leaving his country in the hands of the Burmese, when the Turkish-Afghan sultanate in Bengal was already two centuries old. “He lived there for many years, absorbing the polished world of eastern Islam before going home and retaking his throne. It was to be a fateful exile. Here the history of Arakan intersects with the history of India and especially with Bengal. .. In 1430, after nearly three decades in exile, he returned at the head of a formidable force, largely made up of Afghan adventurers, who swiftly overcame local oppositions. This was the start of a new golden age for this country – a period of power and prosperity – and creation of a remarkably hybrid Buddhist-Islamic court, fusing tradition from Persia and India as well as the Buddhist worlds to the east. He abandoned his old capital and established a new one, which he called Mrauk-U…Mrauk-U grew to be an international center of over 160,000 people. Its inhabitants were a mixed Arakanese, Bengalis, Afghans, Burmese, Dutch, Portuguese, Abyssinians, Persians, even Japanese Christians from Nagasaki escaping persecution of the dictator Hideyoshi. ..This cosmopolitan court became great patrons of Bengali as well as Arakanese literature… Several of the kings took Islamic as well as Pali titles, patronizing Buddhist monasteries and erecting Buddhist pagodas while also appearing in Persian-inspired dress and the conical hats of Isfahan and Mughal Delhi, and minting coins with the kalmia, the Islamic declaration of faith.”
- He (Narameikhla) spoke Persian, Hindi, and Bengali on the top of his mother tongue Rakhaing.It appears that almost all Mrauk-U kings spoke Indian languages. King Sanda Thudama spoke to Manrique in Hindustani language.
- The Annada Sandra Stone Monument or Shitthaung temple Pillar of Arakan was erected by King Anada Sandra in 8th century. It contains records from the ancient to the 10th century A.D. Rakhines consider it as their historical heritage. But the language there on is distinct from Rakhine but similar to Rohingya language. This and many other inscriptions of Arakan written in Nagari alphabets are different from the Rakhine language while closely related to the Rohingya language. (See appendix)
- Muslim culture and language had dominant character in Arakan. Muslims can communicate in their own language with Rakhine until recent time. During and before colonial period Muslim did not feel necessary to learn Rakhine language. There were Burmese and Urdu schools patronized by the colonial administration.
- Under the policies of exclusion and discrimination, the Rohingya language receives no support and encouragement in Burma. However, linguists have now developed Rohingya writing language in new scripts.
- It is to note that in the context of Arakan the Rohingya are not a manageable minority. It is generally observed that they were in clear majority in Arakan up to 1942.
Being a language previously used as a common lingo of communication among all the people of Arakan, the Rohingya language cannot be foreign to Arakan. Khin Maung Saw should understand that the Rohingya is a good language of Arakan as much as the Rakhine. Both languages are beautiful; and one’s own language is more beautiful for the respective people.
Racial Riots: Muslim massacre in Arakan
During Second World War when the British soldiers withdrew from Arakan into India and the Japanese were yet to occupy it, there was an administrative vacuum; and taking advantage of the situation the extremist Rakhines equipped with arms and ammunition left behind by the British troops, started a general massacre of the Muslims in March 1942. Instead of controlling the situation, U Kyaw Khine, a Buddhist who was vested with the power of Commissioner of Arakan Division supplied the Rakhine a boat-load of arms and ammunition (under his control) at Kyauktaw and Myinbya. Thus he played an active role in the genocide of the Muslims. “Some misguided Karen soldiers sold or gave arms to Magh fanatics bolstering their strength.” It was a surprise but premeditated onslaught of the Rakhines on the unarmed Rohingyas, when anti-Muslim sentiment was still very strong in the country following the anti-Muslim riot of 1938 that took the lives of several Muslims in Rangoon and other places of Burma, with intent to ridding Arakan of the Muslim population. Some analysts see it as a part of the Rakhine’s blueprint for an independent Arakan without Muslims.
Hundreds of innocent Rohingya men, women and children were murdered. Many people of the villages jumped into the river and hid in the forest. The swimming people were shot dead while half dead men, women and children were butchered. Rohingya girls and women after having been raped were murdered and the children were mercilessly slaughtered. The waters of Lemro River turned red with the blood of innocent victims. More than 100,000 Muslims were massacred. Hundreds of Muslim villages were destroyed. The Muslim majority area in the east of Kaladan River had turned into a Muslim minority area. But the loss in terms of human civilization and moral values is much greater. 50,000 Muslims were driven across the border to East Bengal, devastating their settlements and depopulating the Muslims in some momentous parts of Arakan.
However, in the northern Arakan, the Muslims leaders had assured and protected the Rakhines. Yet “more than 2000 Rakhines were killed in Maungdaw, Buthidauang and Rathedaung townships” by those who had escaped the horror from the interior of Arakan, and who had lost their dear and near ones. Some of the Rakhines who embarked on a ship to sail in Buthidaung were drawn because of the overweight. Muslim and Buddhist refugees from the affected area were sheltered at Rangpur and Dinajpur in the British held territory of North Bengal by the British government.
On 7th May 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army occupied Akyab, the capital of Arakan. Burma National Army (formerly BIA) led by Bo Ran Aung also entered Akyab and brutally killed 30,000 Muslims of Ambari and Manupara. However, the presence of Japanese forces at Akyab helped considerably in saving the lives of the people from the marauders and thugs. “Japanese took control of Buthidaung and half of Maungdaw. The Muslims of North Arakan formed peace committees with the help of the Japanese”. Then the whole areas under the Maungdaw township, Buthidaung township and part of Rathedaung township were brought under the administration of Peace Committees headed by Mr. Omrah Meah.
The Muslims of Arakan were pushed to the north because of the communal rioting. Major Irwin, a British officer in the Arakan Front thus wrote, “The Arakan before the war had been occupied over its entire length by both Mussalman and Maugh. Then in 1941 the sects set to and fought. The result of this war was roughly that the Maughs took over the southern half of the country and the Mussalman the northern.”
As mentioned above, it was a surprise but planned massacre of the innocent, unarmed and helpless Muslims Arakanese by well armed Buddhist Rakhines that amount to genocide. It was started by Rakhines not the Muslim Rohingyas; the fact is well documented. As a result, at least 100,000 Muslims were massacred and more than 2000 Rakhines lost their lives. Here U Khin Maung Saw has lied and deliberately suppressed the true information.
While the reminiscence of the 1942 genocide still shattered the conscience of the Muslim Rohingya population, several Rakhine stalwarts and politicians were actively engaged to cripple them politically, socially and economically. The Muslim Rohingyas were under constant threads and onslaughts of the Rakhine muggers and extremist politicians backed by the ultranationalists. On the other hand, during the period preceding Burma independence, Arakan Communist Party (ACP) was demanding total independence of Arakan. The ACP obstructed the repatriated Rohingya refugees who took refuge in Bengal in 1942 to repossess their land and resettle in their original places in the townships of Kyauktaw, Pauktaw, Ponnagyunt, Myebon and Myinbya making them landless and internally displaced. The extremists were also harping on the tune of Muslim extermination. Under the circumstance, like many other ethnic nationalities, it was their sense of duty to explore all possible venues for the restoration of their rights and freedom.
U Khin Maung Saw and U Maung Tha Hla (USA) with their preconceived ideas are indignant over an open letter sent to the Burmese government in 1951 by a group of Rohingya demanding a Muslim State within the Union Burma. Given the hostile attitude of the Rakhines who are dogged for a separate independent Arakan without Muslims the demand for a Muslim state in northern Arakan within Burmese federation is a commonsensical demand of the time. Yet they are critical of it.
Muslim Rohingyas were never separatists. They have been consistent in their demands for the restoration of their rights and freedom within the Burma Union on par with other nationalities of the country. Again in the case of the statehood of Arakan for the totalitarian domination of Rakhines with the slogans “Arakan and Buddhism are synonymous and Arakan is for Rakhine only; Muslims/Kalas are illegal immigrants and they have nothing to do with Arakan” Muslim Rohingyas demanded a state of their own in the zone of their “Traditional Homeland” in northern Arakan.
However, there have been misunderstandings and lopsided propagandas projected by the vested interests that the Muslims tried to join Pakistan. This was a figment of imagination of only a handful of ostracized segment of people, against the hopes and aspiration of the Rohingya masses, and as such the popular Rohingya leaders never demanded nor projected for separation. It is just irresponsible allegation without any reliable supporting documents. Even the mainstream Mujahid rebel group demanded two states in Arakan-- one for the Muslim Arakanese and the other for Buddhist Arakanese.
In a memorandum dated 10 May 1950, the Rohingya leaders of North Arakan wrote to Prime Minister U Nu during his visit to Maungdaw:
[“There have always been some propagandas going round about that we are, as people labouring to unite with Pakistan or that we are creating a state of which there is apprehension for communal riot from our part. On behalf of our people, we wish to clear these misunderstandings once and for all and declare that we, as a whole, never want to be seceded from the Union and that we wish to live with our Arakanese Buddhist brethren as brothers and sisters in perpetual harmony and concord wherever they may be and that we wholeheartedly depreciate any such ideas and point out that these propaganda are highly detrimental to and dangerous not only for us but also for the solidarity of the Union. We emphatically submit that we are within the Union of Burma, being her most loyal citizens. We also emphatically pledge that in any part in the Union of Burma foreign aggression shall be defended with our blood, sweat and lives.”
“While the Union Citizenship Act 1948 was being enacted, it was particularly expressed by the Chairman and the members of the Drafting Committee that our people belong to such racial group as has settled in any of the territories included within the Union as their permanent home from a period anterior 1823 A.D. (1185 B.E.) and that we are indigenous people of the Union.”]
U Khin Maung Saw described Quasem as the Mujahids rebel leader. But he was never ever accepted by the Rohingya people as their leader. To them he was a renegade, who broke away from the mainstream movement led by the educated people of that time. Quasem inflicted untold sufferings to the villagers. The Rohingya people rose against him with all available means for which he had to end up in exile in the then East Pakistan.
In the face of the persecution, wrongs and injustice, the Mujahid movement was launched. “Followings are some of the major demands (in abridged form) of the mainstream Mujahid Party.”
- Formation of an autonomous Muslim State in North Arakan within the Union of Burma comprising the region from the west bank of Kaladan River up to the eastern part of Naf River.
- Formation of North Arakan Muslim Regiment, with the same privilege like the National Army of Burma, and is to be included in the Burma Regular Army as Territorial Force of North Arakan.
- Urdu to be accepted as a regional language and Burmese to remain as a compulsory language.
- Responsible government officials in the State must be from the local Muslims with a Burmese advisor representing Central Government.
- The non-Muslim minority community of North Arakan will enjoy full rights and fair treatment like Muslim minorities in the other parts of Burma.
- Foreign affairs, Defence, Finance and commerce will remain under Central Government. What should remain under the local authority shall be decided jointly between local and central authorities.
- Subject to the acceptance of the above demands, a Pact will be signed between Mujahid Representatives and Burma Government. Before signing the Pact, a General Amnesty must be announced to the other Muslim political leaders along with Mujahid Party of North Arakan.
“To consider the above seven point demand there were discussions on three occasions between the government’s representatives and Mujahid leaders. In the first stage, some leading local persons along with the North Arakan Muslim Members of the Centre were sent to Thamy village for mutual exchange of thought and ideas. They proposed that the demands of the Mujahid would be considered if they leave of arms. Where as, the Mujahid Representatives refused to do it till the acceptance of demands of the Muslims of Arakan. In the second stage, Mr. Sultan Ahmed M.P. and Mr. Abdul Gaffer, M.P. were sent to Fakira Bazar in Maungdaw. But they also had to return unsuccessful. Earlier Mr. Abul Bashar, a former Township Officer was sent to Thamy with the same purpose. It was to him that the Mujahid representatives submitted their seven point demand. ..In February 1950, Burmese Prime Minister U Nu, Minority Minister U Aung Zan Wai (a Rakhine) accompanying Sadar Aurangzeb Khan, the Pakistan Ambassador in Burma came to Maungdaw in order to hold discussion on the seven demands of the Muslims of North Arakan and summoned the representatives of Arakani Muhajirs (refugees) from Teknaf by the scouts.”
The above mentioned seven point demand was thus officially communicated between the rebels and the government. The Rohingyas never demanded Islamic State. Yet U Khin Maung Saw dubbed the demands of the Rohingya Consultation Meeting of 1951 at Alethankyaw village in Maungdaw Township as undeserved demands of the Islamists although their demands were conducive and compatible to a secular democratic society.
At the same time, in line with the military regime’s unreliable census, he stated the total Muslim population of Burma to be 4%, whereas it is conveniently 12-15%, including Muslim Arakanese who still form 40-45% of the Arakan’s population. U Khin Maung Saw should not be critical of Rohingy’s demands for a state of their own in their “Traditional Homeland” in North Arakan, where they form 80-95% population of the region, particularly when the Rakhines are uncompromising and are opposed to Rohingya’s co-existence as equals in Arakan. If two brothers cannot live together it is better to live in a separate flat of the same condominium. This is a logical demand in an ethnically diverse country like Burma. It is also true in the case of Arakan where the two major indigenous peoples of Muslims and Buddhists, respectively known as Arakan Muslims/Arakani/Rohingya and Maghs/Arakanese/Rakhines, were living side by side before the Burmese invasion it in 1784 A.D. and British colonisation of it in 1824 A.D.
It is to be noted that the Rohingyas are not a manageable minority and their population is larger than many other peoples in Burma. U Khin Maung Saw tries to complicate the Rohingya people’s ‘right to self-determination’ simply twisting that 90% population of Burma are Buddhists with 4% Christians and 4% Muslims. This is not a relevant fact to disqualify Rohingya for a statehood. The Muslim Rohingya have a long history, separate language, culture and civilization, an economically viable and sizeable territory in North Arakan. They feel themselves distinct from others. Thus they have all the prerequisite qualifications to have a state of their own, within the Federal Union of Burma, on par with other national groups of the country to protect and promote their rights and freedom and safeguard their legitimate interests.
In a democratic society there must be complete freedom of religion. Every person must be allowed to freely practice and preach his or her religion. As such, the Muslim Rohingyas should be able to do their utmost for the preservation and growth of Islamic culture among their people without prejudice to the growth and preservation of other religious and indigenous cultures in their homeland. All racial or religious groups should be able to pursue, practice and follow their respective personal laws. A Muslim is required to follow Muslim personal law relating to their marriage, inheritance and guardianship while it is necessary for a Buddhist to follow Buddhist Customary Law.
Corresponding to the above concept, it is not irrelevant to have religious institutions, cultural and literary activities and judicial court for the respective peoples. For Muslims Arabic being a Quranic language is recommended religiously to learn. Similarly the Quazi courts are desirable to decide cases relating to personal law and religious matters. It is indeed helpful for a government for smooth management and good administrative control.
In a diverse society like Burma, it is important to accept and respect the difference of one’s culture, language, life style, mode of dress etc. This is the principle of ‘unity in diversity’ articulated by father of the nation Gen. Aung San for the perpetuation of the Union of Burma. U Khin Maung Saw should not be sensitive to the religious and cultural practices of the Muslims or Rohingyas in Arakan and Burma. He has no good point to be intolerant to the demands of the Alethankyaw Consultation meeting for (i) establishment of Quazi courts presided by a grand Mufti; (ii) right to form a statutory Muslim Council (Majlis Islamia) for the management of the religious, social, educational, and cultural affairs, and also for the administration of the Muslim Institutions in order to promote welfare of the Muslims in the Union of Burma according to Islamic Laws; (iv) establishment of Islamic schools etc..
Since the whole sub-continent and Burma were under British colonization it was phenomenal that the leaders of Burma, Pakistan and India had something in common. In the same token, especially when the Muslim Rohingyas felt alienated and left out, some of their leaders approached the Pakistani leader Mr. M.A. Jinnah and requested him to persuade General Aung San to ensure their rights and freedom in Burma. Accordingly there had been discussions between Mr. Jinnah and Gen. Aung San, and Jinnah and Aung San’s emissary U Rachid in the interest of their two peoples. Gen. Aung San had assured Mr. Jinnah that the rights and freedom of the Muslims of Arakan would be guaranteed as a Burmese people. During and before Burmese independence, there were several such episodes with other ethnic peoples living on the borders. Thus it was nothing wrong for the discarded Rohingyas to approach a prominent person with a request to exercise his good offices for their constitutional safeguard in the would-be Union of Burma.
In March 1946 “Gen. Aung San came to Akyab and sought the cooperation of the Muslims of Arakan. He met the Muslim leaders at Youngman Society in Thet Kaybin, at Akyab.” He assured the Muslim Leaders, advocate U Pho Khine, advocate U Yasin, advocate U Khalilur Rahman and U Sultan Mahmood (Ex. Health Minister), of the full national rights in post independence Burma. Gen. Aung San called (a public meeting) at Chekaingdan (World War II British Army air field) in Akyab when leaders and people of Arakan were united and assured support for the struggle for independence.” Most interesting and noteworthy is the fact that on the very day of Bokyoke Aung San’s martyrdom, he had a special appointment with Muslim M.L.Cs. from Northern Arakan, Mr. Sultan Ahmed of Maungdaw and Mr. Abdul Gaffar of Buthidaung, in connection with the nationality and political status of Muslims or Rohingyas of Arakan. He (Bokyoke) had also assigned Mr. Sultan Mahmood and U Aung Zan Wai, to go Maungdaw and Buthidaung, so as to organize the public there for Pa-Sa-Pha-La (AFPFL). Muslims were quite satisfied with this assurance of the independence hero. The Rohingyas in the rural areas still sing with lamentation, “If Aung San were alive the golden Burma would be in peace and the Rohingya would not be wretched but blissful.”
Rohingyas Support Federal Democracy
U Khin Maung Saw states that the Rohingya’s claims affect the Burma Democracy Movement. It is an expression with a preconceived brainwave. Generally the current claims of the Rohingyas are (i) Peaceful co-existence (ii) the right to exist as equals on the system of parity in indivisible Arakan (iii) federal democracy (iv) human rights. We reject the ‘big brother policy’. There is no ‘prime nation’ and ‘sub-nation’ in Arakan. The Rohingyas love Arakan/Burma. They will, without a second thought, sacrifice their lives for its defense and prosperity. They will guard, maintain and uphold its ethnically diverse character at all cost and will never allow any attempt and conspiracy for the disintegration of the Union. It is unfortunate that a number of Rakhine politicians and academics constantly try to keep the Rohingya at bay and influence the leaders of Burma Democracy Movement (BDM) and Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) to practice the ‘policy of exclusion’ with a view to ridding Arakan of the Muslim population.
U Khin Maung Saw pointed out that the Rohingyas have been rejected by both democracy and ethnic nationalities! But on many occasions leaders of the BDM and ENC said, “We accept your legitimate status, but it is only Rakhines who are making problem about your participation in numerous Burma democracy and ethnic committees and forums.”
There was an episode. In 1994 we had visited Manerplaw, the liberated area of Karen National Union (KNU). The visit was coincided with the convention of Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB) held in Manerplaw. We made an application for the membership of DAB to its President late General Bo Mya after we had been assured support by all 22 member organizations of DAB, including Buddhist Monk Association and Rakhine group represented by U Khine Soe Naing Aung. When the President Bo Mya called an emergency meeting of DAB Executive Committee to discuss our application, all participants supported our membership in the DAB except Rakhine, despite their earlier support. At last, the Rakhine representative(s) cast the last card threatening to quit DAB if the Rohingya were admitted, upon which General Thwin (a former minister in U Nu’s cabinet) and one of the two vice-presidents of DAB reacted impatiently. At night U Thwin called us to his office at Manerplaw and started to console us saying, “I don’t know why Rakhines are hostile to you. Don’t be disheartened. I am still struggling at 80. You are still young. Since you hold the truth you fight for it”. These words of a late veteran politician still inspire me.
As mentioned above, the Rohingya’s claims reflect the democratic aspiration of the people of Burma. The Rohingya are committed to Burma democracy movement, because democracy is linked to peace. They are steadfast to respect for and uphold human rights, because human rights are universal and one cannot live as human being without them. The anti-Muslim/Rohingya activities of U Khin Maung Saw and his associates preaching racism, xenophobia, islamophobia indicate that they are undemocratic and have not the least sense of human rights. It is their activities, not the claims of the Rohingya, which affect Burma democracy movement. His allegation against the Rohingya people is a false alarm which is applicable on him.
U Khin Maung Saw said for the transfer of population from overcrowded Muslim Bangladesh to under-populated Arakan, Burma, there would be an organized struggle, supported by all Muslim countries, to create separate state of Arakanistan or Arakandesh. What does U Khin Maung Saw mean? This is a nonsense statement, an agitation and a provocative act. It also is an affront to Bangladesh and all Muslim countries as well as a disregard to international law and practices. His statement is challengeable as the Muslim Rohingyas never bring to mind such a name “Arakanistan”. But “it was Barrister U Hla Tun Pru, a Rakhine politician, and other Rakhine leaders made all out efforts to demand “Arakanistan” in 1947.” Similarly the word “Arakandesh” is unknown to the Rohingyas. Thus “Arakanistan/Arakandesh” is a product of Rakhines not the Rohingyas.
U Khin Maung Saw tried to support his treacherous statement mentioning, “Prince Khaled Sultan Abdul Aziz, commander of the Saudi contingent in the 1991 Gulf War, visited Dhaka, Bangladesh, in Mid-April 1992 and recommended a Desert Storm-like action against Burma; “just what [UN] did to liberate Kuwait.” Prince Khaled made this statement while on a visit to Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh upon seeing with his own eyes the great humanitarian disaster and human tragedies. His statement was not related to U Khin Maung Saw’s fanaticized make-believe story. It meant for a humanitarian intervention (HI) on the ground of humanitarianism with the specific purpose of preventing or alleviating widespread suffering. HI is an accepted concept under the international law on the principle of “international responsibility to protect”.
Rohingya language relayed from indigenous peoples’ language programme
U Khin Maung Saw lied that the Rohingya language programme relayed trice a week from government’s Burma Broadcasting Service (BBS), Rangoon, was from the foreign language programme. It was well documented that the Rohingya language was relayed from the country’s indigenous peoples’ language programmes. “In addition to the existing languages, four more languages of Mon, Pao, Lahu and Rohingya were added in the indigenous peoples’ language programme and relayed 10 minutes each from 15 May 1961, in accordance with the government’s decision aimed at national unity. But Mon, Pa O and Rohingya programmes were stopped on 01 October 1965.” Here U Khin Maung Saw has lied stating, “both Hidustani and Rohingya programs were abolished, but the national language programs increased”. One may check it with the BBS records. This is a clear government’s recognition of Rohingya’s indigenous status in Burma. It appears that he has a hidden motive behind this blatant lie.
U Khin Maung Saw shouts that Rohingya refugee issue is not a common refugee problem as known to international media. He tries to articulate it as a case of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants who left for Bangladesh to avoid routine immigration checks. It is a cunning deception and an outrageous cruelty unacceptable to any civilized society.
The bases for an international concept of refugee may be sought in treaties, in UN practice, and in the UNHCR Statue. In the case of Rohingyas it is persecution which has caused them to flee their ancestral homeland of Arakan, where persecution against them is so barbarous and callous that their life is at stake and they are in danger of extinction. They fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to seek asylum from persecution and to save their lives. They are refugees according to the General Definition of the term ‘refugee’ contained in Article (1) of the 1951 Convention [Convention Relating to Status of Refugees, adopted on July 28, 1951 by the United Nations Conference of plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons convened under the General Assembly Resolution 429(V) of 14 December 1950; entry into force: April 22, 1954, in accordance with article 43], which defines a refugee is a person who ‘as a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.’
The world community is unanimous that the Rohingya refugee problem is a manmade tragedy of great humanitarian disaster, arising out of ethnic, religious and political persecution. It becomes a regional problem having dimension in the perspective of internationalism. It is also an ‘ethnic cleansing’ to rid Arakan of the Muslim population. The violations of human rights against them are systematic, persistent and widespread that amount to ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘attempted genocide’. The Rohingyas are both an ethnic and a religious group and are as such, protected by the Genocide Convention. Thus the Rohingya problem warrants ‘international responsibility to protect’ with ‘individual responsibility’ of the perpetrators. U Khin Maung Saw’s accusing of internationally recognized Rohingya refugees as illegal Bangladeshis is a blatant disregard of international opinion and UN mandate. On the other hand, it is an inhuman act to call for expulsion of Rohingyas from their ancestral homeland of Arakan with a view to making them wander from place to place with ultimate aim of annihilating this Muslim minority community.
Due to persecution, about 1.5 million Rohingyas have either been expelled or left Burma since 1948. These Rohingya diasporas, who include both UN registered and undocumented refugees, are living in many countries of the world. Nevertheless, all of them are refugees according to the international definition of refugees with ‘right of return’ to their homeland.
Repatriation of Rohingya refugees
Due to large scale persecution there were two unprecedented refugee influxes into Bangladesh one in 1978 and another in 1991-92 each with about 300,000 refugees. Through two identical bilateral repatriation agreements signed between Bangladesh and Burma, without the involvement of refugees’ representatives, the refugees were repatriated without their deliverance. Refugees have had resisted the forced repatriation and insisted that they would not return to Burma unless there are changes in circumstances, improvement in their human rights situation, change of attitude of the regime toward them and cessation of persecution, and above all, there is all-inclusive political and democratic process in the country with Rohingyas as a part of it.
International community is aware that hundreds of refugees died while protesting forced repatriation. Some of them either ran off to other destinations or left behind mingling with the locals in the villages of Bangladesh; but they are vulnerable living in constant fear. Refugees are described to have been living between snakes and crocodiles. Thus far they are hesitant to return to Arakan under hellish situation, when the flights of refugees from Arakan into Bangladesh are daily undulating due to continued persecution against them. Time and again, the international community, UN, EU, NGOs and Dhaka based diplomats have expressed their concerns that the refugees should not be sent back to Burma against their will.
Despite this, U Khin Maung Saw lied that in 1998 the number of returnees was about 30,000 more than the official refugees declared by Bangladeshi authorities. He also made similar accusation on 1992 refugees, while 28,000 of them are still in two UN refugee camps in Bangladesh. The scenarios have been well documented and the hoaxers cannot move it out of sight of the international community. In addition, the new Thein Sein government has admitted that the Rohingyas are still entering into Bangladesh and the refugees are unwilling to return to Arakan. “Both governments (Bangladesh and Burma) are in discussion to launch synchronised patrol of the common border by border guards of the two countries to stop fresh influx of Myanmar citizens into Bangladesh,”  Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Quayes said. In an interview with BBC on 24 October, the Burma Director General of Immigration U Maung Maung Than stated that the (Rohingya) refugees are reluctant to be repatriated to Burma.
1970 Bangladesh war refugees
Having felt unquenched U Khin Maung Saw further alleged that a number of 1971 Bangladesh war refugees had not returned from Arakan. In fact, about 200 Bangladeshis, most of whom are high profile persons, had taken shelter in Arakan during 1970 Bangladesh war of liberation. They were properly listed and documented by the authorities. I would challenge U Khin Maung Saw if he could name and prove a single case of such Bangladeshis who had not returned. Who would live in a nightmare when their country was liberated with the blood of their martyrs? Time and again we saw such nonsense allegations from Mra Raza Linn-- a Rakhine lady now lives in Dhaka-- and other Rakhines that Bangladeshis are entering into Arakan, even after the emergence of Bangladesh, to grab the lands of the Rakhines. In 1991, the freelance writer Bertil Lintner wrote, “Burma’s strict immigration controls have effectively closed the border, and migration over the past four decades has gone into opposite direction…many Rohingyas have also travelled on to Pakistan, India and beyond Muslim countries in West Asia..”  An estimated 500,000 Burmese, most of them Rohingya Muslims, reside in the Makkah region. Thus this misinformation or attempt of U Khin Maung Saw and others is apparently an early signal of genocide in Arakan.
Rohingya emigration and Rakhine immigration
Since 1942 Muslim massacre, expulsion of Muslim Arakanese or Rohingya into Bangladesh and other countries was a regular phenomenon. Crimes against humanity of destruction, rape, murder and other inhuman acts have been perpetrated against them by state and non-state actors, resulting in their tragic flights to alien lands like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Gulf State, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan etc. Still U Khin Maung Saw and extremists are shameless to accuse that in quest of greener pasture, people from poor Bangladesh are illegally entering into so-called rich land of Arakan, where Muslim bloods are daily sucked or spilled.
Arakan has turned into a hell for the Muslim population, who “are forced to live in semi-concentration camps in Arakan” Even animals will escape away from such horrific monstrous environment. It is unthinkable how people from democratic Bangladesh chose to live in anarchic Arakan. Let us see press reports and situation how Rohingyas are emigrating from Arakan.
- Many Muslim refugees who escaped the carnage of Burman king Bodaw Phaya’s invading forces had not returned to Arakan. Most of them left behind in southern Chittagong where They are still known as Roais/Rohingyas.
- In the welter of Anglo-Japanese War of 1942, the Allied forces retreated from Arakan leaving huge arms (with the Buddhist Maghs). Taking advantage of the situation the Maghs started massacre of the Muslim population, in which 84,000 innocent Muslims were slaughtered, burnt down many villages, mosques and religious scriptures and institutions. Besides, 50,000 of them who escaped persecution were kept at Rangpur Refugee camp by the British Government. But in spite of their repeated appeals to be rehabilitated in their original lands have not been taken back as well. Some of the Muslims who returned could not be resettled in their original places as their lands were taken over by the Rakhine under state programme and under the threat of the underground Rakhine communist rebels. But all Rakhine refugees were properly rehabilitated.
- In the latter part of 1948, when Mujahid Movement against the Burmese Government was extensively going on, the Burmese armed forces killed and arrested many Muslims, burnt down many of their villages, kidnapped and raped their women. Muslim thus terrified, fled the country and took shelter in East Pakistan numbering about 33,000. Most of them could not come back.
- Soon after the independence, “the Burmese Government, for the purpose of the settlement of Maghs in the Muslim areas, convened a settlement committee. They came to a decision to settle down about 70,000 Maghs from East Pakistan and other parts of Arakan. In materializing this scheme the Government confiscated arable lands of the Muslims of the areas where they formed 98 percent of the population. Buddhist settler villages have since been progressively established through out North Arakan making the Muslims increasingly landless.
- Pakistan expressed its concern over the expulsion of Muslims from Arakan since independence. “…The government of Burma is driving away the Muslims of Arakan under the false accusation and pretext of being agents for the Mujahids. The Governor of East Pakistan Mr. Zakir Hussain also expressed the attitude of Burmese Government on its Muslim subjects as prejudicial. The East Pakistan Martial law administrator and G.O.C Major General M. Omrao Khan accompanied the Governor to the Park-Burma border to investigate the condition of the refugees.”
- In 1948, the very year of the independence of Burma, 30,000 Arakanese Muslims had fled to East Pakistan to escape persecution, harassment and genocide by a section of a Maghs. ..During the year of 1949 the government forces invariably carried on various kinds of atrocities such as looting, raping, physical torture and arson as a result of which many such villages went out of existence and 20,000 Muslims were also pushed into East Pakistan. 
- The armed forces kidnapped and raped Rohingya girls and women. “On February 1, 1955 the Burmese Army kidnapped two daughters, two sisters and two sister-in-law of Sayed of Palipara (a village in Zedibyin sub-township) and raped them. Three young women – one wife of Fazlur Rahman and his two sisters; the wife of Kala Meah (Member) with his two sisters; the wife of Abdul Rahman with his daughter-in-law, including three other young girls of his relations were also kidnapped and rapped. Women were also carried off and raped particularly in the villages of Shwetpyin, Annukpyin, Thinganet and Kudik Chaung. Uncountable numbers of women from different villages were also forcibly carried off and dishonoured. They also inhumanly killed 4 Muslim dignitaries from the same village. ..One night the army arrested 50 old men of the Kanhpu village, dragged them to the camp and put to death by starvation.”  Many villagers left for East Pakistan to escape persecution. These crimes against humanity become widespread in North Arakan since military rule in 1962.
- In 1959 Burma Army destroyed 32 Rohingya villages– 24 in northern Maungdaw and 8 in northern Buthidaung. They burnt down many houses, killed many people, raped women, destroyed crops, looted properties cash and valuables, and expelled innocent villagers across the border to the then East Pakistan.
- From 1962 military take over the expulsion of Rohingyas has become systematic and widespread. In 1975, “About 500 Muslims have been coming daily as refugees to Bangladesh. They were pushed by Burmese authorities and Maghs. They have left all their movable and immovable properties in their own country.” 400 Burmese Muslims took shelter in Jessore Town Hall. The leader of the refugees Mr. Noor Mohammed told that they are the bona-fide citizens of Burma. He further told the newsman that due to continuous persecution by a section of Buddhists and State authorities as many as 15,000 Rohingyas from Maungdaw area in Arakan crossed the border to Jessore, Moghulhat and Rangpur. They were forcibly deprived of their properties but got no remedy from any quarter.
- The Rohingya refugees reached also India. “In Urdu Park, in front of the Jama Masjid, Delhi about 300 Muslim refugees from Burma under the tattered sheds are passing their lives. Among them are included women and children who had established hearth and home in Burma. They had their own lands and jobs. The government seized all their properties and drove them away from their homes. ..The Burmese police led the refugees to the border with Bangladesh and ensured that they crossed over. They were defrauded of Rs.70,000 by money changing touts. They escaped into India under cover of darkness. From the border to Calcutta they travelled in buses. The rest of the journey to Delhi was completed by train, mostly without tickets.” 
- Due to oppression and suppression by the Government of Burma and the Buddhist (Maghs), many Muslims from Arakan, in scattered condition, have been crossing over to Bangladesh where they have been concentrated in relief camps at Tefnaf. While visiting the relief camps the refugees, who have National Registration Cards of their own, expressed their woeful plight in their own dialect. In Teknaf there are as many as 630 refugees from104 families till now they are living in a very heart-stricken position. …Many of the refugees are living along the hillside mixed with the locals. It is estimated that about 1500 of them recently entered into Bangladesh. One refugee Abdul Gaffar of Zibonkali described that they had to leave all their belongings, properties and lands at the hands of the Maghs…Another refugee told that atrocious crimes, loot, physical torture, confiscation of properties and rape became the routine for the Maghs and government authorities.
- 20 Burmese refugees died of dysentery and diarrhoea in relief camps at Balukali and Teknaf. There are 1288 and 514 refugees at Teknaf and Balukali refugee camps respectively, who came here 3 months ago. It is also learnt that exodus of refugees to Bangladesh are taking place daily.
Since 1942 the Muslim Rohingyas of Arakan are under tyranny. Their life is a story of woe upon woe without any respite since independence of Burma. It has been hellish from 1962 military rule; the worse comes to the worst during the rule of SLORC, SPDC and ruling civilianized military regime of U Thein Sein. Under the pretext of looking for rebels or immigration checks barbaric operations have been conducted often committing crimes against humanity of destruction of settlement and villages, rape, murder, forced starvation, confiscation of their arable lands, moveable and immovable properties, forced expulsion from their homeland. Over and above, the measures of deprivation of basic freedom like freedom of movement, marriage, education, trade and business are enormous. While the situation is just the reverse, U Khin Maung Saw lied that Bengalis from over populated Bangladesh regularly infiltrated into so-called resourceful Arakan. What are the resources available to Muslims in Arakan? It is a planned deception against the Rohingyas and Muslims.
Conversely, the whole northern Arakan has been dotted with many settler villages of Buddhist communities, who include a large number of Bangladeshi Maghs/Rakhines/Marmas settled on the Muslims’ lands, lands endowed to the mosques in and around the places like Alethankyaw, Bawlibazar, Taungbazar, Zedipyin Taungbyo, Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, Ponnagyunt, Taungup and Akayab city etc. Mosques were destroyed and established Buddhist settler villages on and around them; and few pagodas were erected on the mosque yards.
Some of the major armed operations conducted against the Rohingyas that resulted in their expulsion and massive destruction of their homes and settlements:
1. Military Operation (5th Burma Regiment) November 1948.
2. Burma Territorial Force (BTF) Operation 1948 -50
3. Military Operation (2nd Emergency Chin Regiment) March 1952
4. May Yu Operation, October 1952-53
5. Mone Thone Operation October 1954
6. Combined Immigration and Army Operation January 1955
7. Union Military Police (UMP) Operation 1955-59
8. Captain Htin Kyaw Operation, 1959
9. Shwe Kyi Operation, October, 1966
10. Kyi Gan Operation, October-December 1986
11. Ngazinka Operation 1967-1969
12. Myat Mon Operation, February 1969-71
13. Major Aung Than Operation, 1973
14. Sabe Operation, February 1974-78
15. Naga Min (King Dragon) Operation, February 1978-79
16. Shwe Hin Tha Operation, August 1978-80
17. Galon Operation, July 1979 to 1991-92
18. Pyi Thaya Operation, July 1991-92
19. Ongoing Na-Sa-Ka Operation from 1992
Based on the definitions of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), we can now infer that the followings Crimes Against Humanity have been committed by the military regime and non-state actors against the Rohingya people:
1. The Crime Against Humanity of Murder;
2. The Crime Against Humanity of Extermination;
3. The Crime Against Humanity of Deportation or Forcible Transfer of Population;
4. The Crime Against Humanity of Imprisonment or other Severe Deprivation of Physical Liberty,
5. The Crime Against Humanity of Torture;
6. The Crime Against Humanity of Rape;
7. The Crime Against Humanity of Forced Pregnancy;
8. The Crime Against Humanity of Sexual Violence;
9. The Crime Against Humanity of Persecution ;
10. The Crime Against Humanity of Enforced Disappearance of Persons;
11. The Crime Against Humanity of other inhuman acts.
The rapid demographic changes in North Arakan due to Buddhist settler villages, and the aforementioned continued gruesome armed operations and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Rohingyas speak themselves who illegally infiltrated into Arakan; definitely they were Rakhines/Buddhists, not the Rohingya/Muslims.
U Khin Maung Saw and his accomplices made futile efforts to implicate the Rohingya groups to have connection with terrorist organisations, Taliban or Al-Qaeda. Their unsubstantiated and concocted allegations are creation of SPDC, ruling regime and vested interests to suit their interests. For the regime, the reason may be to regain US support via terrorism angle. Time and again through press releases and statements, Arakan Rohingya Organisations (ARNO) and it Rakhine political allies National United Party of Arakan (NUPA) strongly condemned such concocted allegations and rejected any direct or indirect link with any terrorist organisation. Followings are an abstract of some of the press releases.
“ARNO condemns terrorist attacks on United States on 11 September 2001 and believes that terrorism is an evil on earth that knows no homeland, nationality, religion, or race and so everybody must disown it and condemn it.”. .…In recent week, Muslims in Burma have become vulnerable after terrorist attacks in the United states and conflict in Afghanistan. The military SPDC or citizens of other ethnic groups may think that they can justify anti-Muslim activities as part of “the war on terrorism.” Increasing signs of Muslim and Islam hatred and climate of victimization of Muslims in Burma have been reported across the country. Persistent rioting and clashes between Muslims and Buddhists, destruction of Muslim shops and houses in towns and cities, tightening of travel and worship restrictions on Muslims and stepping up of persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Arakan have taken place. SPDC is responsible for these violence on religious line.”
“In the recent weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, there have been several news reports which have suggested possible link between terrorist organisations and Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) and National United Party of Arakan (NUPA)… On September 2000, recognizing the need for unity between Arakan’s two major communities of Rakhine and Rohingya, the NUPA and ARNO formed the Arakan Independence Alliance (AIA)…. The AIA reiterates its condemnation of September 11 terrorist attacks. The AIA calls on the international community to root out terrorism in all its forms, including terrorism practiced by a state as well as individuals and groups.”
“Recently the Burmese military Junta has tried to link Rohingya freedom fighters to the Taliban. … The reason may be to regain US support via the terrorism angle… By demonising the entire ethnic nationalities like Rohingya, it hopes to secure international support at the expense of peace of the people of Arakan. …ARNO welcomes supports from any group worldwide as long as they respect our goals and especially our vision of tolerance and respect for all religions and human rights for all in Arakan. ARNO will continue to work with NUPA and our Rakhine Buddhist allies to achieve our vision of a diverse, tolerant, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Arakan society…Let one thing be clear, no matter how much military and political pressure or torture the Burmese junta subjects our people to, we at ARNO will never participate in any activities that are destructive to our Arakan or take part in any activities that are not steps towards our goal..”
“Since the agreement of political alliance signed between NUPA and ARNO on 16th September 2000, the Burmese military has been up and doing to damage the image of the joint freedom struggle of the Muslim and Buddhist communities in Arakan. In its effort the SPDC with the vested interests is trying to exploit the grave situation, in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, and is tarring the Muslim freedom fighters with the same brush, with an expectation to get US support and to accelerate its Rohingya extermination and ethnic cleansing. ”
ARNO is the continuation of the Rohingya people’s struggle for peace, justice, equality, democracy and human rights. We are committed to remain a community within Arakan, and to working with other pro-democracy groups in order to build a Federal Union of Burma. We are also committed to having peaceful and beneficial relations with our neighbours.”
“While practicing policies of “de-Muslimization” and “Rohingya extermination”, the junta is employing all possible ways and means to gain the support of the United States by trying to link the Rohingya freedom fighters with al-Qaeda and Taliban. ….We again state that ARNO has no link or relationship with al-Qaeda or Taliban. It has nothing to do with the relay of CNN alleging link with al-Qaeda on the western side of Burma. Neither our freedom fighters received any training nor any kinds of assistance from al-Qaeda nor Taliban… ARNO is an organisation advocating democracy, peace, justice, equality and human rights in Burma. It has been working hand in glove with National United Party of Arakan (NUPA), which represents Buddhists of Arakan, under the umbrella of Arakan Independence Alliance (AIA).”
“The junta is trying to secure international support, particularly to gain the support of the United States, though the prism of terrorism with intent to divert the attention of the people of the world away from the serious situation in the country. Especially Rohingyas are implicated, for being Muslims, to have link with al-Qaeda and Taliban. The CNN videotape number C205 showing alleged fighters training in 1990 in Burma is of no linkage to us. …Arakan Independence Allaince (AIA), an umbrella organisation of ARNO and NUPA, states that none of its component organisation is involved in any activities that are not in line with its policies and programmes and are not in conformity with its goal... AIA is committed to preserve the composite nature Arakan society and uphold the principle of “peaceful co-existence” among all or different national groups of Arakan. It believes that joint struggle of the Buddhist and Muslim communities of the homeland is absolute imperative to liberate their homeland...”
“ARNO does not maintain any camp or base in Bangladesh. ARNO does not harbour any foreign militants and has never engaged any activities abetting terrorism. ARNO strongly condemns any terrorist acts by anyone and denounces terrorism of all kinds anywhere in the world. ARNO does not support any fanatic groups. As a proof of this, neither ARNO nor any of its members feature in the US government list of organisations and individuals involved in or financing terrorism.”
The regime and critics like U Khin Maung Saw may think that they can justify anti-Muslim activities as part of “the war on terrorism” with intent to further intimidate and terrorise the Muslim population of the country. But this is a failed agenda and futile exercise. Instead, U Khin Maung Saw and his accomplices may be prudent to stop keeping the flames of racism and bigotry burning. Otherwise, the people of Arakan (Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and animists) and their children, and their children will born, have to bear the brunt of the venom of their racism and xenophobia leading to unending communal conflict that will bring them only destruction, irreparable disaster, humiliation after humiliation. For any such adverse situation of inhuman acts the Burmese regime as well as U Khin Maung Saw and group will be held responsible.
In conclusion it may be stressed that Arakan is a diverse society. The two major peoples of Muslim Rohingyas and Buddhist Rakhines have had lived side by sides for centuries. They are still living in the same place drinking the same water and have to live until doomsday. They must learn how to live peacefully. The current hostility between these two sister communities is detrimental to all. This is time for rapprochement for peaceful coexistence. Let us recognize and respect pluralistic culture and difference between us, on the principle of ‘unity in diversity. Diversity is not weakness but strength.
Verse No. 4
Text of Pillar Rohingya Rakhine English
Jagata Jagat Kabba World
Varsam Vasar Hanik Year
Satam Shat Thara Hundred
Verse No. 5
Tena Tene Thu He
Krtm Karten Loukthi Did
Rajyan Rashtri Oukchoukthi Reign
Verse No. 6
Nama Naam Amee Name
Raja Rajah Bayin/Min King
Verse No. 7
Ikam Ekk Thaik One
Thasmad Tharfar Tohnauk Then
Verse No. 8
Nitiri Vikramp Nitimote Thara Thapyint Justly
Verse No. 52
Deni Deni Deni Deni Nezin Daily
Verse No. Numeral Inscription Rohingya Rakhine English
17,14 Dhuwi Dhui Hnaik Two
13 Therai Teen Thaong Three
31 Pansa Pans Ngaa Five
25 Chau Sau Khrouk Six
14,16,26,30 Chaat Chaat/Hanth Khunaik English
35 Dhuwa Dosh Dosh Dhui Sehnaik Twelve
9,22,115 Vish Vish/Khuree Hnasei Twenty
35 Thirish Thirish Thonsei Thirty
55 Panchas Panchas Ngasei Fifty
and many others are also similarly pronounced in Rohingya dialect.
 Professor Dr. Mohammed Ali Chowdhury: “Bengal-Arakan Relations: A study in Historical Perspective”, a paper submitted to Arakan History Conference, Bangkok 23-25 November 2005, organized by the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, p.7
 Moshe Yegar: “The Muslims of Burma”, A study of Minority groups, Weesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz, 1972, p.18
 Shwe Lu Maung ,”The Price of Silence: Muslim-Buddhist War of Bangladesh and Myanmar, A social Darwinist’s Analysis”, DewDrop Arts and Technology, Columbia, Missouri, USA, p.173.
 Ba Shin, “Coming of Islam to Burma 1700 AD”, A research paper presented at the Azad Bhavan, New Delhi in 1961, p.4.
Col. (Rtd.) Ba Shin was the Chairman of the Burma Historical Commission.
 Abdus Samad, “Muslim population (Rohingya) in Arakan was relatively recent development:– Myth or Fact examine”, First Rohingya Consultation, 2-3 August 2006.
In “Muslim in Burma”, an article by Sultan Mahmud (MP), Ex. Health Minister of Burma, published in the Nation Daily, Rangoon, dated 12 April 1959 and his several parliament debates.
In “Rohingyas and Kamans”, (in Burmese) by M.A. Tahir Batha, p.39.
 “Burmese Outpost” by Anthony Irwin, Collis, 1945.
Defeat Into Victory, by Field Marshall William Slim,1956, Cassell & Company Ltd
 A.T.M. Salimullah Bahar,”Dynamic of Ethnic Relations In Burmese Society: A case Study of Inter-ethnic Relations between the Burmese and the Rohingyas, M.A. Thesis, 1981, p.89
 Dr. Michael W. Charney, “Buddhism in Arakan: Theory and Historiography of the Religious Basis of the Ethnonym”, a paper submitted to the Forgotten Kingdom of Arakan Workshop, 23-24 November 2005, First Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand. P.15
In Buchanan, “A comparative Vocabulary,” p.55
 S.L. Verma, “The law Relating to Foreigners and Citizenship in Burma”, Second edition 1961, Zabudipa Trading Co. Rangoon, pp. 121,122,129
In Pamela Gutman; Ancient Arakan, pp. 16-17
 U Hla Tun Pru; The Whiter, The When and The Why of Arakanese history. (Dec. 1958)
In Pamela Gutman; Ancient Arakan, pp. 16-17
 Anthony Irwin: “Burmese Outpost” , London, Collins, 1946.p.21.
 U Maung Tin, “”Suggestion to Rohingya Consultation Forum”, Bangkok, Thailand, 2-3 August 2006, p.2
 Burmese politics (1958-1962), Vol.3, edited by U Kyaw Win, U Mya Han and U Thein Hlaing, Universities Press, Rangoon. Pp. 2-3.
 Far Eastern Economic Review, “A danger to themselves” by Bertil Lintner, 29 August 1991, p.28.
 “The Woeful Tale of Arakanese Muslim Refugees”, The Daily Kohistan (Urdu), Lahore, west Pakistan, September 4, 1959
 “The Burmese Muslim Refugees in Jessore”, The Daily Ittefaq (Bengali), Dacca, Bangladesh, March 4, 1975.
 “ UN pay attention: Hundreds of Muslim pushed out from their motherland by Burmese government. Say where would to go –These Muslims – lying in open space in front of the Delhi Jama Mosque”, The Mustaqeen Weekly (Urdu), Delhi, India, April 14, 1975
 ARNO Press release dated 25 August 2002
In Pamela Gutman: Ancient Arakan, PP. 68-71.
In U San Tha Aung: Annada Sandra 8th century Wethali Kings, Book No. II, p.215.