28 Feb
  • By CRDI

How To Solve Rohingya Crisis?

By U Kyaw Min

Both Dereek Tonkin and Dr.J.Leider, long-serving dictators and racial extremists in Myanmar, have tried to obliterate Rohingya identity. Nowadays, their effort to refute the authenticity of Rohingya identity reached the International level as Oxford University Press’s Asian History Unit commissioned Dr J Leider to write a reference article on the Rohingya. Here what we must know is history alone could not decide ethnicity which depends on many other criteria. 

These two person’s concern is to obscure all shreds of evidence and records of Rohingya identity in history. Their argument is,” there is no Rohingya in British official records and British censuses”. The fact is due to British census methodology they use the term Muslims, Arkan Muslims, Native born Indians and so on for Rohingya. If ethnicity should depend on British census let the Rohingya are called with one of the names: Shaikh, Syed, Mughal, Patan which 1871 British census described. Some British official records mention Rakhine as Maugh. Is that be the identity for Rakhine today?

In fact, Dereek Tonkin and Dr.J.Lieder are not aware of current International Laws and Human Rights Laws which allow People to choose their own ethnic name. It is a practice, People all over the World use today. UN and International Community recognize Rohingya’s choice of their identity. In so-called 135 ethnic peoples in Myanmar, there are many races that were not in British censuses. Again Former Immigration Minister U Khin Yi explained to the Press that in 2015 census there came out nearly 600 ethnic identities which are very complex and it’s a matter to decide on for the coming Parliament.

Then why there is an objection to Rohingya ethnicity which we find in various official records of post-independence Governments including Myanmar encyclopedia volume nine, 1964 which was published in the time of General Ne Win revolutionary Council Government. This encyclopedia detailed about Rohingya’s history and indigenous status. The creation of Mayu Frontier Administration in 1961 was the endeavour of General Ne Win and it was under his defence minister. All administration officials there were military men. These indicate U Ne Win also approved Rohingya identity, which was very popular in official usages then.

Present day effort to portray these people as illegal Bengali is a cliché, an illusion, and a whim. This attempt is a total failure as United Nations and all its branches and International community recognize Rohingya identity as authentic and historic. Reality is Arkan and Chittagong were under the same sovereignty for many many centuries before Arkan became part of Myanmar. People there were free, without any restriction to settle where ever they like. Therefore, all ethnic peoples of Arkan including Rohingya today are also found in Chittagong. All these peoples became full citizens in the respective countries where they lived after getting independence from British.

But, currently forced Banglanization and alienization led to the present crisis which becomes a topmost serious concern of International Community today. This current crisis in Northern Rakhine State is defined as ethnic cleansings, Crime against Humanity and even as Genocides in the International arena.

One more important point is, very recently in a talk with Irrawaddy Media Professor of Anthropology, Daw Moe Thida Htway explained that Bengali call people from Chittagong as Chatghanya whereas they refer people of Rakhine as Rohingya. Yet another speaker at that talk U Ko Ko Gyi raised the question on Rohingya application.There are dozens of precolonial historical records which confirmed Rohingya identity.

Finally, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to the Netherlands told Rakhine-Rohingya racial conflict and mistrust rooted since the 18th century. So denying full citizenship to a people who have been there at least for four centuries (According to our Democracy Icon and State Counselor) would be unjust and unethical. I hope that remark of Daw Suu is enough for Rohingya identity and equal ethnicity rights in Myanmar. Rohingyas’ citizenship is not an individual issue. It is a collective ethnicity issue. Only biased and people with racial mentality will reject above historical truth. Boghoke Aung San was a Nation builder; he accepted Rohingya, as full Burmese citizens.

He allowed Rohingyas to take part in 1947 National Election. Naturally, state builders take risks to solve critical and complex political issues as Nelson Mandela did in case of white people’s status in South Africa amidst stern opposition from black people. Our hope is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as a highly respected paragon, and Democracy Icon will take some risks and will prepare to face some opposition to solve current Rohingya issue and to receive back current Refugees without dragging more time.

It only will be a fair play in the interest of all stakeholders. Peace, stability, rule of law, security and access to the lively hood for the remaining Rohingya in the country are the essential requirements the Government should maintain.

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