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Rohingya: Allegations and Refutations (Part 2) | M.S Anwar

Allegation #3

Rohingyas are (recent) illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.


I have learnt that during British Colonial period, migration from one place to another (within its colonised countries) was absolutely legal. Therefore, some members of Rohingyas might be immigrants but not illegal ones. Therefore, how can someone call them illegal immigrants as a whole? At the same time, one has to apply the same logic to the Rakhines as well. They also migrated from one place another during British time and it can't be denied. And they are living both sides of the countries, Burma and Bangladesh. If they (the same Rakhines) can be citizens of both countries, why can't Rohingyas be citizen of Burma? Why?

During the time of the agreement between Aung San and Aktle, he (Aung San) promised that he would recognize everyone as citizen of Burma who was living within its territory. How can someone today revoke Aung San's agreement? Besides, one should not forget that Chittagong region of Bangladesh and Arakan of Myanmar were combined and one land used to rule by the same rulers. It is not strange if one finds similarities among the people of Arakan and Chittagong region. Besides the people called Rohingyas, Chakmas (Thaks) and Baruas also speak a Chittagonian dialect and similar cultures with the people of Chittagong. How could honorable historians like Dr. Aye Chan deliberately and conveniently leave it out in his speeches and books while he points out the similarities between Rohingyas and Chittagonians? 

Furthermore, I want to ask back to those people (who accuse such a thing) why Bangladeshis should come into a land which is ruled by the world-known oppressive government, relatively less economic opportunity, less income (GDP per Capita in Bangladesh and Myanmar in 2011 are US$1700 and US$1300 respectively) and poorer infrastructures. (, 2012) (, 2012) Why? To die? Or to convert Buddhists into Islam? Can 4% Muslims convert 89% percent of Buddhists in the country? (The-Ministry-of-Foreign-Affairs-Myanmar, 2012) If so, these Burmese are really feeling insecure of themselves. Instead of being jealous, hating and killing people, which is against teaching of Buddha and the principles of Buddhism, to protect Buddhism, Burmese should introduce peaceful missionary works to protect their religion. 

Allegation #4

Rohingyas cannot be one of Burmese citizens because they look like Bengalis and the language they and Chittagonians speak is similar.


Well. Rohingyas look like Benglis because both are of Indian descends. Their language sounds like the language of Chittagonians. In that sense, one needs to apply the same logic to other people. Rakhines look like Bama, their language is almost same to Bama Language and they worship same religion. Should we call there were no Rakhines in history of Burma? Rakhines think themselves as a different ethnic people. How can we believe that? You also need to check up your DNAs to confirm your distinct and different ethnicity (Rakines) from Bamas. Will you do that? And the same Rakhines live in Bangladesh, too. And Bama itself originated to China. Besides, there are Kachins in China and India other than Kachin state. There are Shans in Laos and Thailand (in fact, Shan and Thai are same people) besides Shan state. Mon has the ethnically strong relations with Khmers of Thailand and Cambodia. If all these people can be citizens of Burma despite their presence in other countries, why can’t Rohingyas be? Why don’t people apply same logic to Rohingyas’ case? Why do Burmese people think arbitrarily and illogically?

Allegation #5

Rohingyas cannot be citizens of Burma because they cannot speak Burmese.


Some people claim that Rohingyas cannot be nationals of Burma simply because they can’t speak Burmese. One would be wrong to say so because the educated Rohingyas can speak Burmese fluently. Some of the Rakhines in rural areas of Maung Daw can’t speak Burmese either but they speak Rakhine language which is a different dialect of Burmese Language. Besides, some of Kachins, Chins, and Mons etc can’t speak Burmese. Are not they citizens of Myanmar? This fact cannot be a judgmental factor in deciding the nationality of the people in Myanmar. 

Rohingyas can’t speak Burmese because these people are locked mostly in northern Arakan and there are no proximity and close relationships between Bamars and these people. They have been isolated for the longest time. On the daily basis, most of them cannot find a single Bamar to speak with. So, how can they speak Burmese? We have to think logically rather than on arbitrary basis. But those (Muslims) people who have close relationships with local Rakhines can speak Rakhine fluently. The worse thing is that even many high school students in Maung Daw and Buthidaung cannot speak Burmese fluently because they are, in their schools, taught in local Rakhine dialect even though the books are in Burmese language.

Let’s put some arguments regarding this language factor whether or not it affects one’s nationality in other countries of today’s modern world. In India, most of the people like Tamils, Telugus, Malayalams, Tulus etc don’t even know what the (official) Hindi language is let alone speaking it. Are not they citizens of India? In Bangladesh, people in southern regions cannot properly speak original Bengali language. Are not they citizens of Bangladesh? In China, Mandarin and Cantonese are two different languages and there are many more on top of that. In spite of that, are not all they Chinese and citizens of China? In Thailand, people in southern part cannot properly speak Thai. Does it mean that they are not citizens of Thailand? In Malaysia, despite the very close relationships between Malays and Chinese, Chinese can’t properly speak Malay. As all know, Chinese are citizens of Malaysia. I wonder why only Burma has so many problems like this. Therefore, it is the high time to stop thinking stereotypically and think out of the box.

Mohammed Sheikh Anwar is an activist, studying Bachelor of Arts in Business Studies at Westminster International College in Malaysia.

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