What is Genocide? What is Rohingya genocide? When did it began? In which part of Burma is this taking place? Are there refugees taking shelter in the neighboring countries? Who are the parties involved?, What should be done about it? Does it have anything to do with Rohingya’s race or religion? Are there democratic minded Rakhines to help stop the crisis?These are some of the questions people are curios to know. Human rights and international UN agencies are curiously waiting to know from the present “democratic” government what measures it is taking to stop genocide in Burma? .
a. killing members of the group
b. Committing bodily or mental harm to members of the group
c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group.(1)
What is Rohingya Genocide?
Rohingyas original home is in Arakan of Burma. They have been driven out of Burma by the successive military government beginning mainly from 1962. In the same year a total of were 20,000 Rohingyas were pushed out of Arakan to Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). In reaction to this Ayub Khan warned that “Pakistan doesn’t want its army to cross the border into Burma but…” In 1978, over 200,000 Rohingyas were driven out by the government forces. When international agencies in Bangladesh refugee camps checked the refugee’s identity, they were found to carry National Registration Certificate (National Registration certificate). Burmese government at the insistence of international body accepted the refugees. In 1992-93, over 300,000 refugees were forced out of Arakan to Bangladesh, this time the solders at the border made sure that as they leave, Rohingyas don’t carry any documents.Ever since Rohingyas have been crossing the Naf River to enter into Bangladesh. In 2008, there have been 10,000 refugees poured into Bangladesh territory. Now that Hasina government is refusing to accept Rohingya refugees anymore, lately they are crossing the ocean in small boats ( a kind of suicidal, many die on the way) to take shelter in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.(2) Why Rohingyas are desperately leaving Arakan?
Rohingya extermination as a state policy began after Ne Win came to power but it turned genocidal when the government introduced some measures so that Rohingyas willingly either leave Arakan or face severe consequences. The UN report of violation on the Rohingyas in 2009 includes measures:
Restriction of movement,
Prevent villagers from giving a fair income for their produce
Confiscation of land to built villages for Buddhist settlers and for expansion of military facilities.
There is also ban on marriage.(3)
A typical day in Arakan reported as “Rohingya people in panic in Northern Arakan
The report mentions:
“The Rohingya people in Northern Arakan have been passing days and nights in panic because of authorities have been seizing weapons (such as knives, choppers, swords, daggers, hoes, adzes, spades) from Rohingya villages while the Rakhine and Natala villegers have been equipped with lethal weapons even with guns since 15 days ago, said a local politician requesting not to be named.”(4)
The Parties involved in the genocide
Who are the parties directly and indirectly involved? In Burma Rakhine Moghs are only 5% of the population but occupies 30% in the armed forces. It is a force to recon with. This disproportionate distribution of the Rakhine Mogh, both in the Burmese army and their alleged oppression in the ethnic areas especially in Arakan is something important to understand. Reliable sources reports that in Arakan, in the name of Burmese military, Rakhine forces does all the genocidal activities such as rape, forced labor and applying bans on marriage, restricting Rohingyas from traveling from one village to another. The parties directly involved are the Arakanese police and militia, Nasaka and the ultra nationalist hooligans. There are the anti Rohingya provocateurs who work at home and abroad. Prominant among them are Aye Kyaw, Aye Chan, Monk Ashin Nayaka, and many other low level leaders and followers in Arakan and elsewhere. The provocateurs wrote xenophobic books and articles and give speeches some are available on Youtube propagating the the Rohingya people as being “dangerous,” “foreigners” in Arakan, and even “influx viruses,” requiring extermination, warning their fellow countrymen that otherwise they will be exterminated. Considering the depth of their hate mongering actions,and the acts of genocide, it is important to find out more about the people who are directly executing their orders. (5)
Why Rohingyas became the target of genocide?
Rohingyas are different from the Rakhines in bothe race and religion. Rohingyas are Muslims and Hindus, Rakhines are Buddhists. In 1982 a delegation from Arakan was led by Rakhine Mogh Aye Kyaw convinced the military government to constitutionally declare the Rohingyas as the non citizens of Burma. This was successfully done and Aye Kyaw openly takes the credit for committing the crime against humanity knowing very well that due to such initiative, close to a million Burmese people were uprooted from their ancestral homeland now suffers in foreign countries looking for a home they can call their own. Aye Kyaw and his band of people claims themselves as Burma’s democracy movement leaders and themselves as being “good Theraveda Buddhists.” Human rights groups wonder about the basis of their claims!
Are there democratic -minded Rakhines to help stop the crisis?
There are many. There are progressive-minded people but they were being undermined from 1930’s by the rise of ultra nationalist leaders both in the army and in the civilian authorities.(6)What are the excuses of declaring Rohingyas as the non citizens of Burma?
To the xenophobes, Rohingyas entered Arakan after 1824, the year the British began occupying Burma. Denying the historic Rohingya existence (from the Indian Chandras to the Arab sea going settlements in Arakan, to General Wali Khan and General Sindhi Khan’s army sent by the Bengal’s Sultan to help the Rakhine Mogh king and their army settled in the Kaladan valley during the 15th century, and Shah Suja’s followers in the 17th century, Rakhine Moghs claim that Rohingyas are only British time settlers. It says they have never heard the name Rohingya. Francis Buchanon heard the name Rohingya 1798. (7)The unfortunate thing is that if the xenophobes claim is true that Rohingyas entered Burma after1824 even that has been close to two hundred years. Surprisingly, the same ethnic group Rakhine Moghs in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh took shelter in Bangladesh during the British rule are Bangladeshi citizens. Strangly, Rakhine xenophobes like Aye Kyaw, Aye Chan, Ashin Nayaka and their followers not using the same standard for themselves, earned citizenship in the West comfortably live their lives but keep their racist skeletons in their native Arakan.(8)
Rakhine-Rohingya–Buma Triangle in Arakan
Unlike most of the ethnic groups in Burma (who are directly) involved in conflict with the Burmese government and now are initiating dialogues, in Arakan however, despite international pressure to stop genocide, Rohingyas’s dialogue with the government is seriously obstructed by the presence of the ultra nationalist third group, the Rakhine -Mogh, which in alliance with the military now commits genocide in Arakan. Not known to most people is the fact that Rakhines are 5% of the Burmese population but occupy 30% of the Burmese army. They are a powerful force against democratic movement to recon with. Alamgir Serajuddin observing the medieval Rakhine activities of piracy in the Bay of Bengal and the cruel massacre of the Bengal governor Shah Suja and his family (assured of asylum) observed: “The Arakanese [Rakhines] were a daring and turbulent people, a terror at once to themselves and to their neighbours. They fought among themselves and changed masters at will. Peace at home under a strong ruler signaled danger for neighbours.” (9) It is true that most Rakhines are not fundamentally xenophobic but it is unfortunate that they are being misled by their leaders to commit Rohingya genocide in Arakan and genocide in ethnic territories, the bad name however is spread all in the name of Burmese people.
In order to stop the genocide in Arakan and for Burma to stop its bad reputation, Burmese leaders have to understand this Rakhine-Rohingya-Buma Triangle. It seems that things are changing in Burma on a daily basis. When Burmese government decides to officially recognize Rohingya citizenship and stop genocide in Arakan and initiates dialogue, it is recommended that it should be between the mentioned three parties perhaps with the presence of foreign observers, including Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia; countries where Burmese refugees continue to pour in to escape genocide. British Foreign Secretary William Haigue lately raised concerns about the Rohingya community that lacks basic civil and human rights.(10)
This is a serious matter happening in Western Burma, it is about genocide and it should be settled as soon as possible on a priority basis to clear up the “Burmese” name; which includes everybody in Burma.
(1) What is genocide, adapted from McGill University sponsored Global conference on genocide, 2007
Link: http: cfchr. mcgill .ca/ what is genocide-en.php?manu=2. cited in Abid Bahar’s book, Burma’s Missing Dots, Xlibris, 2010, p.223;
Tin Soe, “Ethnic Groups deliver UN Commission of Inquiry Petition to the British Foreign Office here
(2) Rohingya Outcry, RPF,1978, Also Images of Rohingya boat people, link here
Also in Abid Bahar, Dynamics of Ethnic Relations Between the Berman and the Rohingyas, an Unpublished MA thesis, 1982.
(3) United Nation’s Human Rights Report, 7th April, 2003.
(4) Kaladan Press, April 9, 2009
(5) killing-rohingya rohingyablogger.com; Rohingya Refugees shifted to Medan;
Also read article: Arakan, the Epicenter of Refugee Production here Link: here
A Brief History of Arakan: From Kingdom to a Colony Link: here
(6) Shwe Lu Maung, We the People published in Habib Siddiqui edited Problems of Democratic development in Burma and the Rohingya people, Japan,(JARO),2007
(7) Who are the Rohingyas? Published in the Irrawaddy here
also read Abid Bahar’s “Aye Chan Enclave with Influx Viruses Revisiter., in Burma’s Missing Dots, 2010;
Also read Mohammad Ashraf Alam, A Short Historical Background of Arakan, Arakan Research Society, Chittagong, Bangladesh, October 2006, here Francis Buchanan, A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire.” Pp. 40-57;
Also Francis Buchanon in South East Bengal (1798). His journey to Chittagong, the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Noakhali and Comilla. Also in Michael Charney, Buddhism in Araka: Theories of Historiography of the Religious Basis of Ethnonyms in the Forgotten Kingdom of Arakan from Dhanyawadi to 1962 ;
Abid Bahar, “I have never heard the name Rohingya” link here
(8) Xenophobic Burmese Literary Works – a Problem of Democratic Development in Burma
(9) Alamgir Serajuddin, Asiatic Society Bangladesh, Vol. xxx (1), June, 1986.
(10) UK Watching the Mood on the Streets of Burma, link here
(Dr. Abid Bahar specializes on Western Burma, visited refugee camps in Bangladesh in 1978, and 2003; he now teaches in Canada)