By Dr.Abid Bahar
Arakan is the Western most province of Burma. Historically, it has developed two major solitudes, Rakhine and the Rohingya. However, not known to the outside world that most Rakhines are a religiously motivated race conscious people. This is evident in their chosen word ‘Rakhine’ or ‘Rakskhine’ understood to have originated from the Pali word Rakhapura meaning the land of the people of Rakshasa (Rakshasa >demon) > Rakkha > Rakkhaing>Rakhaing> Rakhine).” Different from this, Rakhines however were known in history as the Arakanese or the Moghs. But from the 30′s they have adopted the present ethnocentric name meant to “the preservation of their national heritage (a myo) and ethics (sila).” This whole idea in this ultra nationalist argument is about saving the land from the supposed “intruders.” This is repeatedly explained by the xenophobic Rakhine leaders to their fellow Rakhines using a symbolic demon like figure of an imaginary assassin man sitting in a tongi (theachet quarter almost hiding) with a knife to kill somebody, the “foreigner”. This somebody is the non Rakhine, non Buddhist person in Arakan. This “intruder” “enemy” is no other person than the Rohingya living next door. With this understanding, Rakhine leader Aye Kyaw (on record confessed) successfully motivated the Burmese military leader Ne win to deprive Rohingyas their Burmese citizenship. This was done by a constitutional Act in 1982.
Aye Kyaw ( now deceased), Aye Chan and Ashin Nayaka (a monk) evidently are self contradictory leaders but are master manipulators. While they deny Rohingya’s birth rights but all three of them have become the naturalized citizens of Western countries. There have been anti Rohingya propaganda going on led by them for years. Largely due to their influence, Rohingyas lost their rights, now were not allowed to marry, were not allowed to move from one village to another. International community knowing this ongoing trend very well have tolerated this ongoing oppression. Aye Chan in a book several years ago even identified the Rohingyas as “Influx Viruses.” His and his colleague’s reactions to dehumanize the Rohingyas no doubt were the early signs of present genocide.
For a while this intolerance using religious symbols was brewing genuine hatred between the two communities led to mass exodus of Rohingyas to Bangladesh in 1978 and 1991. Gradullay, to escape oppression, about a million Rohingyas left Arakan. There are about a million Rohingyas still live in Arakan. Like the previous massacres, the recent 2012 June machete massacres have all the marks of a religiously motivated racism. This time the xenophobes have also successfully hijacked the Buman group largely through the Rakhine monks in mobilizing the majority Buddhist opinion. Information available to us shows, this attack on the Rohingyas no doubt was centrally planned by Rakhine leaders, evident in the Rakhine distribution of anti Rohingya pamphlet in last May. In addition, see the Rakhine protest signs against Rohingyas, and comments against BBC report, and the online protests by the Rakhines demanding the complete elimination of the Rohingyas people from Arakan. At the same time, check the stab marks on the Rohingya victims, men, women and even children; they all have the mark of religious “Rakhasha knife”; Rakhasha believed to be guarding the land for the Rakhine Mogh people only. No doubt, this is a case of religiously motivated racism now continues with help of security forces, nasaka, and leading up to genocide.
If Burmese government and the international community wish to bring genuine democratic reforms and peace in Arakan, the first step for them would be to denounce Rakhine racism in Arakan in clear terms, at the same time return the Rohingyas their legitimate citizenship rights. It is evident in history that Rohingya are not the “foreigners” in Burma. Their citizenship rights were recognized by Aung San, the founding father of Burma and the first democratically elected leader UNu. Rohingya existence in Burma was recorded in history repeatedly and even found by Francis Buchanon as late as in 1799. Rohingyas didn’t settle in Burma after 1824. They are the people of a multiethnic Burma. It is 2012, the matched massacres have widely exposed Burma’s internal bleedings into open wounds. It is about time to stop racism and genocide in Arakan,NOW!!!!!!
(Abid Bahar teaches inCanada)
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