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Showing posts with label Arakan History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arakan History. Show all posts

10 April, 2018

The Traditional Demand of the Rohingya of North Arakan (3)

The Demands of Mujahid and the Government’s Reactions

By Aman Ullah

“Man is distinguished from animal by the struggle for recognition.” Hegel
Why Mujahid Movement in Arakan?
Up to 1923 Burma was part of British India under Lieutenant Governor. After the Round Table Conference in London, in accordance with the counsel of Simon Commission, Burma was separated from British India in 1937, under the Indian Act of 1935. Dr. Ba Maw was the first Prime Minister of British Burma and later in 1939, U Saw (Galoon U Saw), the killer of Gen Aung San and his men, also became Prime Minister. After becoming Prime Minister U Saw declared that, “Until and unless the Muslims of Arakan cannot prove that their grandfather or grandmother has the real Burma blood, they will be treated as foreigners. That’s mean that if the flow of Burma blood is not found in them, they will be deprived their civic rights.
In 1942, at the instigation of Thakin Party men, gangs of Buddhist Arakanese in the south part of Arakan, where Buddhists constitute a majority, raided Muslim villages and thousands of innocent Muslims were placed on the point of sword. They perpetrated brutal torture on the Muslim women and the tender infants were places on the point of spares. An atmosphere of terror was created by them. The horror and massacre of this fight were so great that being quite unable to stand it. As a result about 100,000 of Muslims were killed and rendering 500,000 homeless. About 80,000 fled to Bengal and took shelter in Refugee camps of Chittagong and Rangpur.
A conspiracy was fabricated to deprive Rohingya Muslims of their right to vote in the Legislative Council election in 1947 labeling them as foreigners, alien and intruders and a large number of Muslims’ names were removed from the voters list. It was all done in the sight of world community. The Jamiat resisted the evil move and eventually became able to restore a plausible numbers of their names in the voter list. Mr. Sultan Ahmad President of Jamiat and his deputy Mr. Abdul Ghaffar was elected members in the Legislative Council to the Burma.
In the mean time, there was a rumor afoot that the Muslims of Arakan border would be shifted to Central Burma and Magh would be placed in their place. The wounds of 1942 massacre were yet to be healed when the Muslims were meted out step-motherly treatment by the Burmans in 1947. Added to these grievances, the new harassment and atrocities inflicted upon the Muslims were just like throwing them from frying pan to the fire. The Muslims were becoming more certain now that their existence and survival is in great danger.
Considering their insecurity and uncertainty of their position, they strongly felt that they need a strong political body by which they may collectively face for their existence and survival. However, as there was no peaceful and secure atmosphere were found for them anywhere in Burma, they were compelled to organize the Mujahid Party. Though under the unavoidable circumstances and undue pressure on them, they have been compelled to take arms, they have definitely moral ways pertaining to their political demands. They declared their seven points political demands including; to form an Autonomous Muslims State named North Arakan with Buthidaung, Rathidaung and Maungdaw taking the region from the western part of Kaladan River and eastern part of Naf River. This region will remain under the Union of Burma.
Their Seven-Point Demands
The Mujahid Party, which was formed at Dabbori Chaung village of Buthidaung Towship declared the following seven-point demands on August 29, 1947. As it was declared at Dabbori Chaung, it was known as Dabbori Chaung Declaration.
1. To from an Autonomous Muslims State named North Arakan with Buthidaung, Rathidaung and Maungdaw taking the region from the western part of Kaladan River and eastern part of Naf River. This region will remain under the Union of Burma.
2. To formed an Army named North Arakan Muslim Regiment by the help of those Muslim youths who possess Military Training or Military Experience in North Arakan. The Muslim youths of this regiment will sacrifice their lives for an inch of land in the case of foreign attack.
3. Urdu must be accepted as a regional language and a medium of instruction of North Arakan. But Burmese Language will remain compulsory as a national language.
4. Responsible Government Officials for North Arakan State must be appointed from the local Muslims. But a Burmese advisor on behalf of the Central Government may remain in this region.
5. The non-Muslim minority community of the North Arakan will have the similar fair treatment like other Muslim minority of other parts of Burma.
6. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Finance, and Commerce will remain directly under the Central Government. As regards the rest, what should remain under the local authority should be decided by the joint discussion of the Central and Local representatives and concurrently shared by both the Center and Local Authority.
7. Subject to the acceptance of the above conditions by the Burmese Government, a Pact will be signed by the Mujahid Representatives and the Burmese Government. But before the signing of the Pact, a General Amnesty must be announced to the other Muslim Political Leaders along with the Mujahid Party of North Arakan. Thereupon in accordance with the Section II of the Pact, the Mujahids known as Muslim Regiment of North Arakan will have the same privilege like the National Army of Burma, and they will be included in the Burma Regular Army as Territorial Force of North Arakan.
The Reactions of the Government
To consider their seven-point demands there were discussions on 3 occasions between the Government representatives and the Mujahideen leaders.
• Mr. Abul Bashar, a former Township Officer and later an elected M.P, was sent by the Government to Thamy to discuss with Mujahids and the Mujahideen submitted their seven-point demands to him.
• Some leading local persons along with the North Arakan Muslim Members of Parliament were sent to Thamy Village of Buthidaung for mutual exchange of ways and means. They proposed that the demands of Mujahideen would be considered if they leave off arms. Whereas, the Mujahideen representative did not want to do it till the acceptance of their demands.
• Mr. Sultan Ahmed M.P and Mr. Abdul Gaffer M.P were sent to Fakira Bazar in Maungdaw. But they also had to return without success.
In February 1950, the then Prime Minister U Nu, Minister of Minority Affairs U Aung Zan Wai accompanying the Pakistan Ambassador in Burma Sardar Aurangzeb came to Maungdaw in order to hold discussion o the seven-point demands of the Muslims of North Arakan and summoned the representatives who crossed from Teknaf by the scouts. U Nu gave assurance to them that if they came to the legal fold, the Central Government itself would consider their demands. He also gave assurance to those who took refuge in the East Pakistan that a welfare officer would be appointed in order to assist them and the government would take the task of rehabilitation of the refugees. If any refugee returned to the land within specific time, they would not be put into troubles by the Immigration Act; complaints of such nature would remain postponed.
None of such assurances were ever entertained. On the other hand, the new Burmese administration formed a frontier security force known as Burma Territorial Force (BTF) with local recruits since 1949. In Arakan 90% of the BTF was manned with Arakanese Buddhists particularly those who are sworn enemies of the Muslims. The BTF under the direction of the Deputy Commissioner of Akyab district, Kyaw U, a Magh, unleashed a reign of terror in the whole north Arakan. Muslim men, women and children were mowed down by machine gun fire. Hundreds of intellectuals, village elders and Ulema were killed like dogs and rats. Almost all Muslim villages were razed to the ground. The BTF massacre triggered refugee exodus into the then East Pakistan numbering more than 50,000 people.
As the demands of the Muslims to correct the injustices, and allow them to live as Burmese citizens according to the law, and not to subject them to arbitrariness and tyranny, were not listened the Mujahid insurrection gained momentum and spread quickly. In June, 1949 the 26th battalion, Union Military Police, stationed in Arakan mutinied and together with communists and PVO brought the fall of Kyaukpyu and Sandoway both being district headquarters. Thus government control was reduced to the port of Akyab only, whereas the Mujahids were in possession of all of north Arakan, and other groups of Arakanese Buddhist rebels had other districts in their control.
Thus, while the central government was busy putting down rebellion that broke out in other places in Burma and was unable to devote itself to Arakan then the government made some attempts to negotiate with the rebels.
What the Muslims of North Arakan achieved by the Mujahid movement?
By dint of the pressure Mujahid movement and to get rid from it, the Central Government had compelled to do the followings: -
• On 25th Sept. 1954 at 8:00 p. m., the then Prime minister of Burma, U Nu, in his radio speech to the nation declared Rohingya as an indigenous ethnic community. All basic rights of Rohingyas had been restored to certain extent. The government tried to convince the Muslim leaders and Parliament members that it was a futile exercise to go on rebellion as the rights of Rohingyas had been restored.
• Prime Minister U Nu and Defence minister U Ba Swe visited Buthidaung and Maungdaw towns in 1959. They held big political rallies in those towns where they spoke of recognising Rohingya as an indigenous ethnic community of Burma like the Shan, Kachin and Karen. They also promised equal rights to them as citizens of Burma.
• On 1 May 1961 the Government created the Mayu Frontier Administration, area covering Maungdaw, Buthidaung and western part of Rathidaung Townships under the Military administration. It was done instead of establishing a ‘Muslim National Area’ in north Arakan with substantial local autonomy but not autonomous rule.
• A special police force in the name of Mayu Ray was raised with the recruits from local Muslims. The situation of law and order were improved. Economic, education, health improvement were done by the Frontier Administration. It was only administration that favored the wellbeing of the Rohingya s during the post Independent Burma.
• Rohingya Language was aired by the Burmese Broadcasting Service (BBS) twice a week till 24th October 1965. Rohingya Representatives were invited to 12 February Union Day celebration in every year.


The Traditional Demand of the Rohingya of North Arakan (2)

The Demands of of Jamiatul Ulama and Its Achivement

By Aman Ullah

Jamiatul Ulama in North Arakan, the first Political Organization of Rohingya, was established in 1932 under the leadership of Moulana Abdus Subhan Mazaheri. Moulan Habibur Rahman. Moulana Amir Hamza, mufti Saeedur Rahman, Moulana Sayed Azeem, Moulana Sultan Ahmad, Moulana Abdush Shakur and Moulana Abul Khair were prominent members of Majlis-e Shoura.
In 1947, Aung San and his companions took a stoppage in Delhi on their way to London to meet British Prime Minister Lord Clement Atley. During their stay in Delhi, they met Qaide Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaherlal Nehru. As Jamiat got the news of Burmese delegate a week before, formed a 4 members delegate to meet them. The Jamiat delegate was as follows:

1-Moulan Abdul Quddus Mazaheri (1924-1993),
President of Jamiat, head of the delegate
2-Maulana Sultan Ahmad General Secretary of Jamiat, member
3-Moulana Abu Bakr Siddique member executive comity of Jamiat, member
4-Three other people one of them a Muslim scholar from Rangoon
They met Aung San and his companions at the residence of Jauharlal Nehru at New Delhi and talked to them for 25 minutes. They submitted a memorandum to them demanding the following issues:
1. To rehabilitate those Muslim Refugees evicted and driven away by torture and tyranny mainly Arakanese Muslims who had been forced to take shelter for their lives in the Districts of Rangpur, Dinajpur and other places of the then British India.
2. To give freedom in the observance of Religious rights in Burma regularly and peacefully;
3. To revive the pilgrimage of Hjis which was suspended due to the world war II;
4. Not to frame any law in the constitution of Burma without the opinion and consent of minorities of Burma;
5. To make obligatory for the Government for providing employment to the minorities of Burma in proportion to their population, fitness and qualification;
6. The Government should make provision for the equal seats of the Muslims of Burma in the parliament as the second majority on the basis of Equality, Justice and Fair-play.
With the regard to above items from No.1 to 5, General Aung San and his Party promised to materialize the terms and conditions of the delegation except the items No.6, which he agreed to refer to the parliament for consideration later on.
On 7 March 1947, Jamiatul Ulama of North Arakan under the leadership of Barrister Dr. Maulana Sana Ullah met British parliament member Ross William –head of Ross William Commission– in the city of Memyo and submitted a memorandum wherein they demanded that area between Kaladan and Naf River should be declared as a state pertaining to Rohingya Muslims.
A conspiracy was fabricated to deprive Rohingya Muslims of their right to vote in the Legislative Council election in 1947 labeling them as foreigners, alien and intruders and a large number of Muslims’ names were removed from the voters list. It was all done in the sight of world community. The Jamiat resisted the evil move and eventually became able to restore a plausible numbers of their names in the voter list. Mr. Sultan Ahmad President of Jamiat and his deputy Mr. Abdul Ghaffar were elected members in the Legislative Council to the Burma. The Jamiat also got elected in both upper house and lower house after independence. A great deal of efforts was met to achieve an autonomous state in North Arakan for Rohingya Muslims.


01 April, 2018

Muslim influence in the kingdom of Arakan

Muslim Arakanese or Rohingya are indigenous to Arakan. Having genealogical linkup with the people of Wesali or Vesali kingdom of Arakan, the Rohingya of today are a perfect example of its ancient inhabitants.
The early people in Arakan were descended from Aryans. They were Indians resembling the people of Bengal. “The area now known as North Arakan had been for many years before the 8th century the seat of Hindu dynasties. In 788 A.D. a new dynasty, known as the Chandras, founded the city of Wesali; this city became a noted trade port to which as many as a thousand ships came annually;… their territory extended as far north as Chittagong; …Wesali was an easterly Hindu kingdom of Bengal following the Mahayanist form of Buddhism and that both government and people were Indian..”[1]
The Burmese do not seem to have settled in Arakan until possibly as late as the tenth century AD.[2] The Rakhines were the last significant group to come to Arakan.[3] They appear to have been an advance guard of Burmans who began to cross the Arakan Yoma in ninth century.[4] And they “could not be genealogically the same as to the people of Dannya Waddy and Wethali dynasties.”[5] In old Burmese the name Rakhine first appeared in slave names in the inscriptions of 12th century. [6] Dr. S.B. Kanango, said the name Rakhine was given by Burman and it was found in 12th to 15th century stone inscriptions of Tuparon, Sagaing. In early days not a single inscription was found in present day speaking Rakhine language. “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.”[7] Hence earlier dynasties are thought to have been Indians, ruling over a population similar to that of Bengal”[8]
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.[9]
Arabs were the earliest people to travel to the east by sea. They were in contact with Arakan even during the pre-Islamic days. The Arakanese first received the message of Islam from the ship wracked Arabs in 788 A.D. Such ship-wrecks were occurred over and over in the coasts of Arakan and Chittagong.
This Arab presence, with the message of Islam, made up the nucleus of Muslim society in Arakan. Thus in Wesali the Arakanese practised Hinduism, Mahayanist form of Buddhism and Islam. The Burmese military regime affirmed in its official book Sasana Ronwas Htunzepho, published in 1997, “Islam spread and deeply rooted in Arakan since 8th century from where it further spread into interior Burma”. Meanwhile, “the Arab influence increased to such a large extent in Chittagong during mid 10th century AD that a small Muslim kingdom was established in this region, and the ruler of the kingdom was called Sultan. Possibly the area from the east bank of the Meghna River to the Naf was under this Sultan.”[10]
Islam developed slowly but surely in natural way. After the advent of Muslim rule in Bengal in 1203, the Muslim population of Arakan increased. Their number grew fast during the Mrauk-U dynasty. There was large scale conversion of Buddhists to Islam during 15th to 18th centuries. When the Dutch industrialists were ordered by the king to quit Arakan they were afraid of leaving behind their offspring through local wives for fear of their conversion to Islam. “It had been reported at Batavia that these children were being brought up as Muslims, and the pious Dutch Calvinists were extremely horrified”[11]
The relations between Arakan and Chittagong were based on historical, geo-political and ethnological considerations. “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.”[12] Because of the political, cultural and commercial links between those two territories, Arakan used to be called ‘extended Chittagong’[13].
The 15th century was a great turning point in the history of Arakan; during this time a large contingent of Muslims entered Arakan from Bengal and they went there by invitation of the ruling princes. The cause was political.[14] Here the history of Arakan intersects with the history of India and especially with Bengal. An age old intercourse between Bengal and Arakan has left distinctive marks on various aspects of society, culture and administration of both countries. The Muslims were an integral part in the political entity of Arakan. They were rulers, administrators and kingmakers in Arakan for more than 350 years.
In 1430, after nearly three decades in exile in the Bengali Royal city of Gaur, king Narameikhla also known as Min Saw Mun (1404-1434) returned to Arakan at the head of a formidable force largely made up of Afghan adventurers, who swiftly overcame local oppositions and drove off the Burmans and Mons. 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. …This cosmopolitan court became great patrons of Bengali as well as Arakanese literature. Poet Dulat Qazi, author of the first Bengali romance, and Shah Alaol, who was considered the greatest of seventeenth-century Bengali poets, were among the eminent courtiers of Arakan. Mrauk-U kings adopted Muslim titles, appeared in Persian-inspired dress and the conical hats of Isfahan and Mughal Delhi, minted coins and medallions inscribing kalima (Islamic declaration of faith) in Persian and Arabic scripts, spoke several languages.
It was Bengal King Sultan Jalal Uddin (1415-1433 AD) of Gaur, a Hindu convert Muslim who helped Rakhine King Narameit Hla with a strong Muslim force to restore him to his throne in Arakan. “Why Muslim army? Because there virtually was no Rakhaing of prime age left to be soldiers”.[15] So the Muslims were the backbone of the defence “He (Narameikhla) spoke Persian, Hindi, and Bengali on the top of his mother tongue Rakhaing.” [16]
The Arakanese Kings nurtured sincere admiration towards the Muslim communities. “For this reason they entrusted the chief administrative posts of government department including that of the defence to the Muslims.”[17] Burhanuddin, Ashraf Khan, Sri Bara Thakur were distinguished Lashkar Wazirs (Defence or War Ministers); Magan Thakur, Syyid Musa, Navaraj Majlis were efficient Prime Ministers; and Syyid Muhammad Khan , Srimanta Sulaiman were capable ministers in Arakan. There were lots of other Muslim ministers, high civil and military officers. They contributed a great deal to the growth of Islamic culture in Arakan.
From 1430 to 1645, for a period of more than two hundred years, the Arakanese kings took Muslim titles and used Muslim names in their coins. They followed Muslim traditions and culture at home, even when there were no good relations with Muslim Bengal. Arakan was turned into a sultanate. Col. Ba Shin, the then Chairman of the Burma Historical Commission states, “Arakan was virtually ruled by Muslim from 1430 to 1531.” [18] It was depicted as an Islamic State in the map of The Times Complete History of the World, showing cultural division of Southeast Asia (distribution of major religions) in 1500.(Edited by Richard Overy, Eighth edition 2010, page 148.)
In accordance with the Muslim tradition like Gaur and Delhi, the whole kingdom of Arakan was provided with the sets of officials by the imperial order. The head of officials was known as Qazi. Some of them were prominent in the history of Arakan. They are Daulat Qazi, Sala Qazi, Gawa Qazi, Shuza Qazi, Abdul Karim, Muhammad Hussain, Osman, Abdul Jabbar, Abdul Gafur, Mohammed Yousuf, Rawsan Ali and Nur Mohammed etc..[19] Gradually a mixed Muslim society and culture developed and flourished around the capital. [20]
This practice was prevalent among the Arakanese kings till the first half of seventeenth century. This was because they not only wished to be thought of as sultans in their own rights, but also because there were Muslims in ever larger number among their subjects. A.P. Phayre observes that the practice of assuming Muslim name and inscribing Kalima in their coins was probably first introduced in fulfilment of the promise made by Mung-Somwun but was continued in later time as a token of sovereignty over Chittagong.[21] He also mentions that “These they assumed as being successors of Musalman kings, or as being anxious to imitate the prevailing fashion of India.”[22]
Panditta U Oo Tha Aung (Rakhine), honorary archaeological officer of Mrauk-U Museum writes: “Arakan remained vassalage of Gaur until 1531 A.D. In the time of ninth Mrauk-U king, Zeleta Saw Mun, three missionaries, Kadir, Musa and Hanu Meah from the country of Rum Pasha (Delhi Empire) came to Arakan to propagate their religion, Islam. They built mosques all over the country and preached their religion among the people daily. Some people believed in their faith and it spread all over the country. People converted in groups. They gave gifts to the kings and he was very friendly with them. The preachers brought later other ministers from Delhi and Kadir built a mosque at Baung Due, Mrauk-U and other preachers, too, built such mosques through out the country. Their religion flourished much.[23]
By 17th century, the Muslims entered Arakan in a big way on four different occasions; the Arabs in course of their trading activities including the ship wracked ones; the Muslim army, actually two big contingents, in course of restoring the King Saw Mun to Arakanese throne; the captive Muslims carried by pirates in the 16th-17th centuries, and the family retinue of Shah Shuja in 1660 A.D. Of them the army contingents who entered into Arakan with the restored King Min Saw Mun were numerically very great; they also influenced the Arakanese society and culture in a great manner. In the 17th century Muslims thronged the capital Mrohaung and they were present in the miniature courts of ministers and other great Muslim officers of the kingdom.”[24]
According to court poet Shah Aloal, “The Muslim population of Arakan consisted roughly of four categories, namely, the Bengalee, other Indian, Afro-Asian and native. Among these four categories of the Muslims the Bengalee Muslims formed the largest part of the total Muslim population of Arakan. The inflow of the captive Muslims from Lower Bengal contributed much to the ever-increasing Bengalee Muslims in the Arakanese kingdom.”[25]
Thus 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. Genealogically Rohingya are Indo-Aryan descendants. Genetically they are an ethnic mix of Bengalis, Indians, Moghuls, Pathans, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Moors and central Asians, and have developed a separate culture and a mixed language, which is absolutely unique to the region. “Dr. Swapna Bhattacharya called this mixed language “Rohingya Bengala”[26]
The picture of the Muslim influence on the King’s Court of Arakan portrayed in the Bengali literature has been presented below:[27]
[“The Arakanese kings could not be free from the influence of the Muslim civilization, politics and culture, which is superior to theirs…They entrusted the chief administrative posts of the government departments including that of the defence to the Muslims. “Lashkar Uzir” or “War Secretary” Asharaf khan was King’s trusted favourite person. The King felt relieved by entrusting all statecraft to him. The Queen also considered him to be more “worth and profoundly learned” than her own son…In fact he ran the country and was the supreme authority. ..Chief poets of the Roshang (Arakan) [when vacant] were not filled without the Muslims. The Muslims were without doubt skilled statesmanship. War Minister of Narapadigyi was Alaol’s first protector and Muslim, Magan Thakur’s father, “Sri Bara Takur”. During Sri Bara Takur’s lifetime, his son “Magan” was holding the post of a minister. King Narapadigyi trusted and loved Magan Takur so much that, at the hour of his death he left his only daughter under Magan’s custody. When this prince became the principal queen of Tado Mintar, she entrusted the Roshang King’s Chief Minister to Magan Thakur realizing the guardianship she enjoyed in childhood.”
“After the death of Thado Mintar, when his son Sandha-thu-dhamma (1652-1684) ascended the throne he had not acquired the skill to run the country yet. Therefore the minor King’s mother ruled as Regent by appointing Magan Thakur as the Chief Minister. After Magan Thakur, Solaiman – another Muslim – filled the position, that is, became the “Prime Minister” (chief counsellor/courtier of the highest rank) of Roshang King Sanda-thu-dhamma. The treasury and general administration of the country was entrusted to this Muslim Chief Minister. During Thanda-thu-dhamma’s rule the important posts of Roshang kingdom were given to the Muslims. Syed Muhammad was his “War Minister” (armed forces minister). Another Muslim named Majlis was “Navaraj” [Nawa-raja] was in the King’s Court. It seems that the civil and criminal courts were run by the Muslim Qazis [judges]. It is known that during that period a man by the name of Saud Shah was a Qazi of Roshang.”]
Followings are some of the developments that reflect Muslim’s influence in Arakan particularly during the glorious period of Mrauk-U dynasty (1430-1784).
1.The Mrauk-U dynasty was a new golden age of power and prosperity with hybrid Buddhist-Islamic court, fusing tradition from Persia and India as well as the Buddhist worlds to the east.
2.Muslim etiquettes and manners, system of administration copying the imperial courts of Delhi and Guar had been practiced. Taslim or Muslim solution was performed in the king’s palace.
3.The Muslim played the phenomenal role of kingmakers with Muslim Prime Ministers, Lashkar Wizirs (Defence Ministers), and Ministers, Qadis, other administrators and large contingents of Muslim army.
4.The kings had involuntarily as well as voluntarily to adopt Muslim names and titles “Shah” in addition to Buddhists names and titles. Mrauk-U kings appeared in Persian-inspired dress and the conical hats of Isfahan and Mughal Delhi.
5.Some aristocratic Buddhists, including members of the royal families and class of persons enjoying superior intellectual or social or economic status also willingly adopted Muslim names.
6.Muslim Qazi courts had been set up through out the kingdom.
7.Persian and Bengali languages were patronized and used as the official and court languages of Arakan.
8.Coins and medallions had been struck and issued inscribing “Kalema”, the profession of faith in Islam in Arabic.
9.The people followed the Muslim tradition at home. Buddhist women of those days practice “purda”.
10.Muslim missionary works hit the highest point. People converted into Islam in groups.
11.Muslims were in the control of trade and business. They were the main forces of agriculture. Particularly the alluvial rice-growing valleys of Kaladan River were populated by captives Muslims from
12.Minted coins and medallions inscribing kalima (Islamic declaration of faith) in Persian and Arabic scripts.

[1] M.S. Collis, Arakan’s place in the civilization of the Bay, Journal of the Burma Research Society, 50th Anniversary publications No.2, Rangoon, 1960, P. 486.
[2] D.G.E Hall, A history of South East Asia, New York, 1968, p.389.
[3] Towards Understanding Arakan History, unpublished.
In Pamela Gutman; Ancient Arakan, pp. 16-17
[4] Pamela Gutman, “Burma’s Lost Kingdom” Orchid Press, Bangkok, 2001, p.5.
[5] Towards Understanding Arakan History, unpublished in Chapter XIII
[6] Towards Understanding Arakan History, unpublished.
In Pamela Gutman; Ancient Arakan, pp. 16-17
[7] Towards Understanding Arakan History, unpublished in Chapter XIII
[8] D.G.E. Hall, A History of the South East Asia, New York, 1968, p.389.
[9] Thant Myint-U “River of Lost Footsteps”, Mackays of Chatham, plc, 2007, p. 72.
[10] “Arakanese Research Journal Vol. III” by Arakanese Research Society of Bangladesh . p. 8
In Arakan Rajsabhay Bangla Shitya.
[11]“Studies in Dutch Relation in Arakan”, Journal of the Burma Research Society, 50th Anniversary Publications No.2, Rangoon, 1960, p.86.
[12] Maurice Collis, “the land of the Great Image”, New York, Second Printing, p.135.
[13] “Arakan in Historical Perspective”, an article in Monthly Bulletin of Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs, Vol.1, April, Number 4.
[14] Dr. Abdul Karim:“The Rohingyas – A short account of their history and culture, published by Arakan Historical Society (AHS), Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000, pp. 14-15.
[15] 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.
[16] Dr. Shwe Lu Maung, “The Price of Silence” Dew Drop Arts & Technology, USA, 2005 P.209.
[17] Ibid. p.11
[18] Ba Shin, “Coming of Islam to Burma 1700 AD”, A research paper presented at Azad Bhavan, New Delhi in 1961, p.4.
[19] Dr. Mohammed Ali Chowdhury: “Bengal-Arakan Relations: A Study in Historical Perspective”, Bangkok 23-25 November 200, p.6.
In Mahabubul Alam: “Chattagramer Itihas (Purana Amal) Chittagong, 1965, pp. 55-56.
[20] Ibid. p.6.
[21] Indians in Burmese History by Dr. Ko Ko Gyi (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, “Indians in Burmese History”). In A.P. Phayre, History of Burma 1853, p.78
[22] Ibid. In A.P. Phayre, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1846
[23] Panditta U Oo Tha Aung; great History of Arakan, p.74.
[24] Dr. Abdul Karim, “The Rohingyas: A Short account of their History and Culture”, published by Arakan Historical Society, Chittagong, 2000, pp 40-42c
[25] Dr. S.B. Qanungo, “A history of Chittagong” Vol.1, Signet Library, 1998, p.291.
[26] Dr. Swapna Bhattacharya, “Islam in Arakan: An Interpretation from the Indian Perspective” a paper submitted to Arakan Historical Conference held in Bangkok on 22-23 November 2005, p.20.
[27] “Arakanese Research Journal”, Vol. III, Arakanese Research Society of Bangladesh, Cox’s Bazar, July, 2005, pp. 11-17.

19 February, 2018

“Rovingaw ႏိုင္ငံက Rooinga လူမ်ဳိး”

“Rovingaw ႏိုင္ငံက Rooinga လူမ်ဳိးဆိုတာLanguages of the Burma Empire စာအုပ္
AD ၁၇၉၇ ခုႏွစ္တြင္ Member of Asiatic Society အဖြဲ႕တြင္ Baronet,Governor, The Honourable  Sir John Shore နာယကအျဖစ္ ပါဝင္ေသာ ဘက္စံုပညာရွင္ေပါင္း (၁၅၀)တို႔ သုေတသန ျပဳလုပ္ခဲ့ၾကေသာ စာတမ္း တြင္ Languages of Burma  Empireေခါင္းစဥ္ ေအာက္ရွိ
-The Mohammedans settles at Arakan call the country Rovingaw,the Persians
call it Rekan .(မြတ္ဆလင္မ်ားေနထိုင္ရာအာရကန္ကို Rovingaw/ပါရွန္က  Rekan ဟု ေခၚ သည္။)
-The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans,who have been long settled in Arakan,and who call themselves Rooinga,or natives of Arakan.ဟု ေဖာ္ျပထားသျဖင့္ Rovingaw ႏိုင္ငံက Rooinga လူမ်ဳိးမ်ားဟု မွတ္တမ္းတင္ေဖာ္ျပထားသည္။
Arakan ကို Kingdom of Mugsဟုလည္းေကာင္း၊ Mug မ်ားသည္ ေဒသခံမ်ားဟုလည္း ေကာင္း ေဖာ္ျပထားၿပီး Arakan ေန Bangal Hindus မ်ားကို Rossawn လူမ်ဳိးဟုေခၚေၾကာင္း လည္း ထည့္သြင္းေရးသားထားသည္။
English,Rooinga,Rossawnႏွင့္Banga စကားမ်ား၏ ျခားနားခ်က္ကို စာလံုးေရ(၅၀) နမူနာအျဖစ္ ေဖာ္ျပထားရာ ဘဂၤလားစကားႏွင့္ ႐ိုဟင္ဂ်ာစကား မတူေၾကာင္းေတြ႕ရသည့္အျပင္ Hindustanee စကားႏွင့္Rooingaစကား မတူ ေၾကာင္းလည္း (*)အမွတ္အသားျပ ေဖာ္ျပထား သည္ကို ေတြ႕ရသည္။

01 February, 2018

Is Rohingya Identity Artificial or Invented?

Is Rohingya Identity Artificial or Invented?
By Aman Ullah
Rohingyas are descended from local indigenous tribes who lived in Arakan since the dawn of history. They trace their ancestry to Arabs, Moors, Pathans, Moguls, Bengalis and some Indo-Mongoliod people. They are living in Arakan generation after generation for centuries after centuries and their arrival in Arakan has predated the arrival of many other peoples and races now residing in Arakan and other parts of Burma. Early Muslim settlement in Arakan dates back to 7th century AD. They developed from different stocks of people and concentrated in a common geographical location from their own society with a consolidated population in Arakan well before the Burman invasion in 1784.
The influence and power of the Muslims grew in Arakan to the extent of forming their own administrative system. There were Muslim rulers, nobles, Qazis, scholars, generals and poets etc. who developed the country’s administration, shaped a healthy socio-cultural life of the people, encouraged the growth of Islamic culture and civilization and replaced Muslim heritage in Arakan.
The Muslims of Arakan over the centuries have had many terms by which to identify themselves, including the terms Rakhine Muslim, Arakan Muslim, and Rohingya, the last of which has become more prominent in recent times.
The Muslims of Arakan called their country, in their own language, ‘Rohang or Roang’ and called themselves as Rohangya (Rohang+ya) or Roangya (Roang+ya) means native of Rohang or Roang. In Burmese it is ‘ရိုဟင္ဂ်ာ’, in Rakhine’s pronunciation it will read as ‘Rohongya’ but in Burmese pronunciation it became ‘Rohingya’ and now it’s established as ‘Rohingya’. Like other peoples of the world, they have needed to identify as Rohingya to some degree for centuries.
The term Rohingya is widely used by the international community to identify as a group of Muslims of Arakan. According to Dr. Ganganath Jha of Jawaharlal Nehru University of India, the term Rohingya is derived from Rohang the ancient name of Arakan.
The Rohingya ethnicity is not real now and it was not invented recently out of blue, as some claim; it had been “gestating,” so to speak, for at least three hundred years, and the term itself was not new.
The first known record of a very similar word to Rohingya used to refer to the Muslim inhabitants of Arakan is to be found in an article about the languages spoken in the “Burma Empire” published by the Scottish physician Francis Buchanan in 1799.  He wrote: “I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.”
In the work of Arab geographer Rashiduddin (1310 AD) Arakan appears as ‘Rahan or Raham’. The British travelers Relph Fitch (1586 AD) referred the name of Arakan as ‘Rocon’. In the Rennell’s map (1771 AD), it is ‘Rassawn’. Tripura Chronicle Rajmala mentions as ‘Roshang’. In the medieval works of the poets of Arakan and Chittagong, like Quazi Daulat, Mardan, Shamser Ali, Quraishi Magan, Alaol, Ainuddin, Abdul Ghani and others, they frequently referred to Arakan as ‘Roshang’, ‘Roshanga’, ‘Roshango Shar’, and ‘Roshango Des’. Famous European traveller Francis Buchanam (1762-1829 AD) in his accounts mentioned Arakan as “Rossawn, Rohhawn, Roang, Reng or Rung”. In one of his accounts, “A Comparative Vocabulary of some of the languages spoken in the Burman Empire” it was stated that, “The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.” . The Persians called it ‘Rekan’.” The Chakmas and Saks from 18th century called it ‘Roang’.
However, the Rakhine nationalist claims that, the term Rohingya was created in the 1950s to promote the political demands of the Bengalis in Myanmar.
Ethnic identity is not a God-given thing, but different forms of identities are invented and reworked thorough space and time. That’s why the process of identity formation is known as ‘social construction’. And Ethnicity is not just a ‘thing’ but also a ‘process’ in which the state actors impose identities, and the people themselves actively articulate their own identities for the sake of political and material livelihood.
As Burma and Arakan state are the products of the nation-sate formation through a relatively long, history, The  name ‘Rakhne’ and the place ‘Arakan’ have been “invented” at particular points of time, just like the name “Rohinggya’ was invented another points of time. If Rohingya ‘migrated’ from Bangladesh of somewhere else at one historical point of time Rakhines must have ‘migrated’ at similar or another historical points of time. But immigrating earlier of later does not negates the problematic reality that both groups have migrated from somewhere else. None of these groups fell from the sky. The claim that the name ‘Rohingya’ is invented is unacceptable and completely contradicts the very foundational understanding of ethnicity and ethnic identity.
Dr. Michael W. Charney, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, tentatively suggests that, “The Rohingya identity is not more “artificial” or “invented” than any other, but the story of its ethno genesis does not fit easily in the all too narrow concept of “national races” as is currently understood in Burma: ethnic groups which were already fully formed as we know them now in pre-colonial times.”
He also suggests that “Rohingya may be a term that had been used by both Hindu and Muslim Bengalis living in Rakhaing [Arakan] since the sixteenth century, either as resident traders in the capital or as war captives resettled in the Kaladan River Valley.” ——— “Rohingya and Rakhaing [Rakhine] were not mutually exclusive ethnonyms. Rakhaing’s topography may have led to Rohingya and Rakhaing emerging as separate versions of the same term in different geographical contexts that came, in the eighteenth century to be associated closely with the predominant religious makeup of the local area concerned.”
He further pointed out that,
“The evidence available shows that the term Rohingya was not widely used to describe a distinct ethnic group until the twentieth century. I would argue that the explanation for this is as simple as that there was no reason for the Rohingya to distinguish themselves in such a manner until the rise in Burma of the Bamar and other ethno-nationalisms against British colonialism.
The beginnings of the Burmese nationalist movement were strongly Buddhist in character, and some of the first nationalist leaders were monks. Thus, Burmese nationalism acquired a religious hue from the beginning. On the other hand, the Burmese have always viewed Indians with suspicion, and particularly Muslims. At that time, the general public did not distinguish much between Burmese Muslims and Indian Muslims, so Burmese Muslims felt they needed to distance themselves from Indian Muslims throughout the country.
The tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Arakan, which had been mounting during colonial times, came to a head in the Second World War. When the British retreated to India and the Japanese advanced in Arakan, the Rakhine Buddhists sided mostly with the Japanese and the Burmese Independence Army of Aung San, while the Muslims were armed by the British; but the conflict soon turned into a civil war between Muslims and Buddhists. When the war ended, the north was mainly Muslim, the south was mainly Buddhist, and the communal divisions reached a point of no return.
Anti-Rohingya discourses often recall the Mujahid insurgency that took place in Arakan during the fifties. As the goal of some of the insurgents was the annexation of northern Arakan by East Pakistan, Rohingya are accused of disloyalty to the Burmese State. But there was scarcely any popular support for the rebellion, and many of its victims were Rohingya. In fact, some Rohingya leaders demanded U Nu to provide them with weapons in several occasions, a demand which was never met.
Meanwhile in Rangoon, Rakhine nationalists were pushing for a separate Arakan State, while Rohingya politicians, wary of their Rakhine neighbors after the Second World War sectarian violence, demanded a separate region in the north for them ruled directly by Rangoon. And during the Parliamentary period (1948-1962) and the first years of Ne Win’s dictatorship, there were not only many Rohingya organizations, both in Arakan and Rangoon, but the government recognized Rohingya as a Burmese ethnic group, as documents compiled by Dr. Zarni show.
It was the government of Ne Win and its military successors who denied Rohingya their rights and began to persecute them, from the mid-seventies until now. And it can be argued that, paradoxically, nothing has done more to reinforce the Rohingya identity than the attempts to suppress it.
There is no historical precedent for an independent political entity for Burma as it exists now, and the different groups that make up the complex ethnic tapestry of Burma were never under the authority of a single government before the arrival of the British. Like many other post-Colonial countries, Burma emerged from British rule as a country deeply divided along ethnic and sectarian lines.
The Bamar was in some ways an underprivileged group during the colonial era but, after turning the tables in the Second World War, since independence it has become the privileged group. As a result of these competing nationalisms and the repeated attempts of the Bamar majority to impose its centralized vision of a Nation-State, the Burmese state has failed to generate a supra-national identity powerful enough to include and transcend the several ethno-nationalisms that awoke during colonial times.
The Rohingya identity is not more “artificial” or “invented” than any other, but the story of its ethnogenesis does not fit easily in the all too narrow concept of “national races” as is currently understood in Burma: ethnic groups which were already fully formed as we know them now in pre-colonial times. Others would also fail the test, because the test itself stems from a misunderstanding of ethnicity and group formation, but it is the political context that has determined that the Rohingya, and the Rohingya alone, should fail it. Their mere existence as a people is a serious challenge to the weak mainstream historical narrative imposed by the military regime.
This, and the Rohingya’s cultural, religious and linguistic differences, has made them expedient scapegoats in the context of a failed process of nation-building. Nothing glues together a divided community more than a common threat, real or imagined, and nothing has united the Rakhine and the Bamar more than identifying the Rohingya as their common enemy. The consequence is a campaign of ethnic cleansing that has been going on for decades. In this situation, it would be very naïve to believe that they are suffering such persecution because they have choose to call themselves Rohingya, a claim for ethnicity that they have as much right to make as any other community in Burma, instead of accepting the designation “Bengalis” enforced by the Burmese regime.
If, as Mr. Derek Tonkin claims, the word Rohingya “is offensive to many Burmese,” that tells us more about those Burmese than about the Rohingya themselves. Burmese define themselves and what it means to be Burmese in the very act of exclusion. What is at stake in the way that the Burmese nation treats and identifies the Rohingya and other Muslim communities is not only the future of those communities, but also the kind of Burma that the Burmese want to build for themselves.”

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