Thursday, March 15, 2012

53 - Response to Aye Kyaw’s polemical writing on Rohingya and Rakhaings of Arakan

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Dr. Habib Siddiqui
Thanks for forwarding Aye Kyaw’s historically flawed article that once again unmasked his narrow mindedness, his inability as a former history professor to be objective and fair to a subject he knows so little about and yet has all the audacity and pretension to present himself as an expert. I am not sure if I should pity him as a person for his senility or his disgusting narrow-minded chauvinism, typical of a person suffering from xenophobia and bigotry.
To him the history of Arakan is all about the Magh/Rakhine people of the Buddhist faith, and has nothing to do with the ‘other’ people of other religious persuasions. What bigotry! It is as if the history of Arakan begins and ends with his people – the Maghs of Arakan – long known in Bengal for their marauding and savage activities.  So, he has no problem reinventing the name Arakan from Pali. How wonderful! I won’t be surprised if he be lauded by his misguided admirers for this fanciful discovery of his! He may be reminded here that the Maghs/Rakhaing people were not the first people to settle in the Arakan. This historical landmass had more connection with its western neighboring territories in today’s Bangladesh and India than it ever had with its Buddhist neighbors to the eastern side of the Arakan mountain range. To forget or ignore such valuable information would only unearth a delusional mind that is in the revision business of twisting history to fit one’s chauvinistic agenda.From his statement, it is quite clear that Aye Kyaw has little or no knowledge of Bengali literature and its history, esp. those in the Mrauk-U dynasty. To fit his ultra-nationalist Rakhine agenda, he even has the audacity to provide a meaning for the word ‘Rohingya’. I am sure no Jew would care about how Julius Streicher understood the meaning of the word ‘Jew.’ In the same way, Rohingyas need no definition for the word ‘Rohngya’ from one of its ardent enemies, responsible for their statelessness in their ancestral home and resultant sufferings, deaths and destructions. His xenophobic writings can only fool his kind that is willing to believe any nonsense from a chauvinist and bigot, and agrees with their ultra-nationalist agenda to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya from the land of their ancestors.
The apparent dirty, ugly side of Aye Kyaw’s essay is not easy to ignore when we notice how he deliberately tried to link the noble and rightful struggle (mostly a non-violent one) of the Rohingya people for their human rights with 9/11 and accused the Rohingya leadership as being former terrorists. I wonder what must have gotten into his head to write this! Is he trying to be a modern-day wannabe Archimedes who found his ‘Eureka’ – the common denominator – Islam/Muslims? If that is so, it would be like the act of a silly workman who has only a hammer to work with, and starts nailing the Rohingya issue with his hammer every time he finds it. That is really a cheap shot, like a hit below the waist line in a boxing match! Unsophisticated, irrational, impudent and criminal! Has Aye Kyaw forgotten struggle of various groups, including the communists inside Arakan in the post-1948 era in Burma? What about the struggle of various groups – Karen, Shans, etc. – inside Burma today? Are these all terrorists? How about the struggle of some of the Arakanese groups (albeit Buddhist Rakhaings) that are fighting against the SPDC? Are they terrorists, too? What is his definition of terrorism? Was Aung San a terrorist? How about Mandela, Gandhi, Subash C. Bose?
Only when someone has run out of valid arguments to defend his indefensible chauvinistic xenophobia could one concoct a ‘theory’ like that of Aye Kyaw. I am really disappointed to see such outlandish, irresponsible, evil and wrong statement coming from someone considered to be an icon by the Rakhaing people of Arakan. We can only take pity with old haggard, relentless bigots for they have failed to evolve into fair, decent, rational men that value human rights or have read and comprehended the 1948 UDHR. It is sad to see how Aye Kyaw’s poisonous messages have been fueling hatred and enmity against the Rohingya people. No wonder that the Rakhapura website, dedicated to the ultra-nationalist cause among the Rakhines, even has a question on who is the worst enemy for the Arakanese people: Muslims (so-called Rohingyas) or  Burmese! Is it any less crime than that of Der Sturmer?
Truly, I don’t know what Aye Kyaw has been drinking or thinking when he wrote his article in response to our two-day Tokyo Conference on Problems with Democratic Movement in Burma and the Rohingya people. He claimed that the current struggle of the Rohingyas mimics that of the Mujahids of 1950 and that the Rohingyas “will establish a State called Rohinstan in 2008.The area of this State will comprise some land of both countries-Bangladesh and Myanmar.” Who has been providing this piece of garbage information is news to me! Are these his partners in crime – the SPDC regime and the ultra-nationalist bigots among the Rakhine leadership? Let Mr. Kyaw offer his proof to substantiate his theory for us to take him seriously. Otherwise, his accusations are baseless, rubbish, and nothing more. His theory unfortunately provides the necessary justification or ammunition to the SPDC regime to commit war crimes against the Rohignya people. And that is the height of sadism committed by this advocate of xenophobia and ethnic cleansing. I wish Kyaw had internal intelligence to understand the harm that can result from his baseless assertions.
Let me make it clear that the Rohingya people today have no illusion about failed policies and methodologies of the past. As one of the early settlers of Arakan, they have as much claim to the land as anyone else today, including the Maghs/Rakhines.  This position has long been upheld by all those who had objectively analyzed the issue. Kyaw may like to refresh himself reading Dr. Shwe Lu Maung’s “The Price of Silence” ( The demand of the Rohingya is nothing more than what has been given to their sister community – the Rakhaings of Arakan state of Burma.
If Kyaw has no problem to acquiring a ‘naturalized’ citizenship in the USA just merely after residing in the USA for few years, and is now living in Brooklyn, NY, let him not question the validity for citizenship of the Rohingyas of Arakan. By any definition and yardstick of our civilized world, the Rohingyas are legitimate children of Arakan and their rightful demand for citizenship in Burma can neither be ignored nor ignored.  Anyone claiming otherwise suffers from hypocrisy, racism, bigotry and xenophobia, among other serious mental disorders.
Rohingyas’ history to Arakan predates 1948. They are not a new phenomenon. I am sorry to state that Kyaw’s ‘theory’ that they did not have any existence before 1948 is reflective of his pure xenophobia, selective amnesia, paranoia, delusion and obsession that are at odds with hundreds of years of history and culture of the Rohingya people of Arakan, whose forefathers put Narameikhla to the throne of what later came to be known as the Arakan some 600 years ago. The Rohingyas have no plans for Rohinstan. Period. This is Aye Kyaw’s imagination, simply a dirty game – following the methodology of Julius Streicher – to bring in more havoc towards final solution or ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas of Arakan. His baseless accusation is irresponsible and qualifies him to be considered as an advocate for crimes against humanity. I hope he realizes that as a citizen of the USA, he cannot advocate for such heinous crimes against the Rohingya people of Arakan, who already face extermination at the hands of the SPDC and their partners in crime – the ultra-nationalist Rakhaings. If Aye Kyaw has any humanity left inside, I wish he is remorseful of his co-authoring the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law that has contributed to some of the most horrific crimes against humanity, including exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people of Burma, plus displaced internal refugees, loss of movement, job, land, property, education, everything. Only an evil person can take glee at such human catastrophes!
Revisionist history aimed at breeding the grounds for xenophobia, hatred and discrimination is a serious crime, and all efforts must be made by conscientious people of our globe to educate people of the harm such poisons carry, and stop it before it is too late. If we fail in this noble mission to unmask the Streichers of our time, we have essentially failed to save humanity and are guilty of being silent partners in letting crimes against humanity be perpetrated by ultra-nationalist mobs and government agencies that carry out such blueprints. Let the messengers of xenophobia and ethnic cleansing know that there is still a functioning world court to punish them if they don’t correct their evil ways.
Dr Habib Siddiqui is the director of the Arakan-Burma Research Institute (USA). He can be reached at:

The Rohingya and the Rakhaing
 Professor Aye Kyaw, M.A., B.L., Ph.D., America Burma Institute, New York
 {This paper is written in response to a conference on the Rohigya and the democratic movement of Myanmar, July 16, 2007 held in Tokyo.}
The Politics of Meaning
The name Rohingya means the wandering people in the Bengali Language. They are living on their own feet and they are not settled at any place. In the Arakanese language they are called Lwintgya which means the people bloom up and fall down some where and they are the unsettled people. Both languages convey the same meaning. Linguistically, ra, ya,la and ,wa are interchangeable’ therefore ra in Rohingya and la in Lwintgya carry the same changeable value.
From “Mujahids” to “Rohingyas”
In the 1950s, the movement for a State was led by “Mujahids” among the Muslims living on the boarders of Arakan and Bangladash.This political tradition is being carried out by the Rohingers who, according to this author’s information, will establish  a State called Rohinstan in 2008.The area of this State will comprise some land of both countries-Bangladesh and Myanmar.
In the 1990s, the movement of Rohinger in the shadow of human rights became popular. The so called Burma specialists supported the movements without knowing its political objectives. Before 9/11 some of its leaders were disciples
of the terrorists.
In short Rohingas are Muslims. Their objective is primarily to gain a State. What ever other reasons they give are not important.
The Arakanese are called Rakhine which comes from Rakkhitta in Pali- one of the three sacred language of India, the other two being sankrit and Prakrit. It means the people who are capable of preserving and promoting, morality and Buddhism. In the Arakanese Chronicles this meaning is consistent both in writing and meaning. Therefore a genuine Arakanese means a Buddhist who is able to maintain Buddhist morality (not to kill yourself and not to kill others too) and to take care of his race.
The Term Arakanese comes from a Pali word Aratkha, which means the people capable of protecting their own land and its neighbors. In the Arakanese inscription, it is mention as Aratkha Desa which means the land protected by its people. This name, Arakan is often referred to Rakhaing by the foreigners. However, the Arakanese do not call themselves Arakanese. This is exactly like the Chinese who refers themselves as Chung Kuo, the middle country but not the Chinese. The name China comes from a combination of two Sanskrit words Chi and Na, which means sticky mud. In other word, the land where earth wares is made-chinaware.
The Arakanese are also called mag which comes from a Pali word, Magadha, the name of a State where Buddhism flourished. Worth noting is the fact that in the Thai language phasa magadha  means the pali language, therefore the language used in Magadha State was Pali. Accordingly, the Arakanese who live in this Magadha State for many years would have spoken Pali In addition, in Bangalese literature mag means awesome and fearful. Historically being decedents of Indo Aryan Race they had lived in Magadha State for many years.
In terms of these findings, the major difference between the Rakhaing and the   Rohingya is that a Rakhaing is a Buddhist and a Rohingya is a Muslim. The Rakhaing has a long history where as the Rohingya has a short history only after 1948.The Rakhaing are the genuine ethnic people and the Rogingyas are not.
Ethnic Nationality
In 1978 Dr. Maung Maung, then a State councilor invited U San Tha Aung Director General of the department of Higher Education and me to have the meeting in his office to discuss about the definition of the ethnic people in Burma. I could recall that Col, Kyaw Nyien who became Minister of Education in 1980 was sitting in the corner of the meeting room listening to our long discussion.  The names of ethnic people are often mentioned in the revenue inquest of Bodaw Paya (1781-1819). In these records the name Rohingya is never mentioned. After a long academic discussion we decided that genuine ethnic people are those who live in Burma before the conclusion of the first Inglo- Burmese war (1824-26). This war is concluded by the treaty of Yandabo (1826). In other words the genuine ethnic people are those people living in Burma before the treaty of Yandabo. Those who came to Burma after 1826 such as Indian, Bengali, Chinese, and Jews are not native people of Burma .They are not genuine ethnic people.
Rohingya appeared only after the independence of Burma (1948). In the British records I never come across the name Rohingya. “A study of Migration between Arakan and Bengal during the reigns of Arakanese Kings.” Never mentioned the name Rohigya.
In short, the Rohingyas are a new creation, which is not found in the Arakanese chronicles and in the British records as well. Their primary objective is to establish a State. On the other hand, the Rakhaing lost their land that they owned for many many centuries; they lost their religion-Buddhism that they preserved and promoted for many many centuries; and more importantly they lost their race that they love and respected for many many centuries.
Aye Kyaw
New York

< Prev
Next >

No comments:

Post a Comment