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A Rohingya History Seminar by Htay Lwin Oo in Saudi Arabia

Ibrahim Shah
RB Article
May 23, 2013

A Rohingya History seminar by Ko Htay Lwin Oo was held in Saudi Arabia in April 2013. Ko Htay Lwin Oo becomes popular as a Rohingya historian since the time he reportedly challenged Dr. Aye Chan; so-called Rakhine historian. The challenge was to prove that the most ancient indigenous race of Arakan is whether the Rohingya or the Rakhine based on historical facts and evidence. Recently Dr. Aye Chan has organized a conference at Mahidol University, Bangkok on the 9th of March 2013 with the help of some Rakhines living in Thailand. During the Q & A session, Ko Htay Lwin Oo has pointed out the fact that the first and foremost indigenous people of Arakan are Rohingyas by referring a primary source evidence of a book on Asian Research written in 17th century AD by a western scholar. Dr. Aye Chan was shocked and speechless to encounter with such concrete historical evidence. His deception and distortion of the true ancient Arakanese history was unmasked in front of many Asian history enthusiasts and international audience. It was a very shameful event for him that made him lost composure and at last concluded the conference abruptly. 

Ko Htay Lwin Oo’s aims of holding the Rohingya History seminars in Saudi Arabia are: 

a. Clarifying the existence of Rohingya in Arakanese history since 7th century AD with historical evidence. 

b. Increasing awareness on authentic ancient Arakanese history to every Rohingya so that their origin, identity, indigenous ethnicity and motherland are clearly defined. 

c. Revival of Rohingya true history worldwide so that it will eventually help every Rohingya from being exterminated. 

d. Proof of Rohingya Ancestry and Etymology so that Rohingya can challenge the Burmese-Mogh racists and their fellows accomplices such as Dr. Aye Chan, 88 generation student leader Ko Ko Gyi, Bengali-Mogh RNDP vet. Aye Maung and so on. 

Though Burmese historians claim that “Divide & Rule” was first introduced in Burma by the British Colonialism, it was actually exercised in Arakan in as early as 1784 when Burmese King Bodaw invaded and conquered Arakan. The Burmese intruder had instigated communal violence and religious hatred between Rohingya and Rakhine that resulted slaughtering many people from both ethnicities. King Bodaw Maung Waing had destroyed all cultural monuments which were erected since 7th century. When Burma was totally occupied by the British Empire 1885 the inter-communal violence was temporarily stopped until 1942. It was an unforgettable and horrific year for Rohingya as many thousands Rohingyas have lost their lives under the swords of Rakhines. The biggest blow to Rohingya has come in 1982 when Burmese dictator Ne Win drew the 1982 Citizenship Law. The sole purpose of the Citizenship Law is to strip the Rohingya off their fundamental and bona fide citizenship rights. It also imposed discriminatory policies in Education, Health Care, Job, Freedom of Movement and eventually made Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh on their own ancestral Land Arakan. 

During the Seminars, Ko Htay Lwin Oo has used various historical references and evidence in explaining Rohingya History and here are some of the evidences that he has referred. 

  • The language of Ananda Chandra stone inscription which was written at the end of 8th century has 70% similarity with Rohingya Language. It is not even closely similar to either Burmese or Rakhine languages. 
Undoubtedly, it is the concrete evidence which indicates that the Ancient Arakan official language was Rohingya and they were the indigenous people of Arakan. 

Some of the historians unfortunately overlooked the primary source “Stone Inscription” and falsely claimed that Rohingya are the descendents of Arab. They traced the term “Rohingya” back to a shipwreck in the 8th century AD. According to their assumptions, after the Arab traders’ ships wrecked near Ramree Island, The Arab traders were ordered to be executed by the Arakanese King. Then, Arabs shouted in their language, “Rahma” which means “please show mercy to us”. Hence, these people were later called as “Raham”. Gradually it changed from “Raham” to “Rhohang” and finally to Rohingyas. MA Chowdhury 1995, pp. 7–8. 

“Brief observation throughout the evolution of world’s languages and their environment; if the Rohingya people were the generations of those shipwrecked Arabs, their language must be Arabic following their fathers’ roots or else, it is must be either Rakhine or Burmese following their mothers’ roots. In reality, the Rohingya language is much more distinct amongst these languages. Therefore, inarguably it further confirms that the Rohingya people were in Arakan before the advent of Arabs. Since that time in Arakanese Kingdoms and in their daily lives Rohingya language was used as official and mother tongue of Rohingya people.” 

Another historical evidence came from the research of the renowned European traveler Dr. Francis Buchanan (1762-1829 AD). In his major work “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire” published in 1799, in the fifth volume of Asiatic Researches, is the book which provides one of the first major Western surveys of the languages of Burma. In his book, Arakan was mentioned as “Reng, Roung, Rossawn, Russawn, Rung” .It also stated that, “the native Mugs of Arakan called themselves ‘Yakin’, which name is also commonly given to them by the Burmese. The people of Pegu are named ‘Taling’. By the Bengal Hindus, at least by such of them as have been settled in Arakan, the country is called Rossawn. The Mahammedans who have long settled at Arakan call the country ‘Rovingaw’ and called themselves ‘Rooinga’ or native of Arakan. The Persians called it ‘Rkon’.” 

Some words from the book Asiatic Researches volume fifth by Dr. Francis Buchanan that was published in 1799 :

Hereby attached another dialectical chart of the difference of Rohingya and Bengalee dialects:

Chauvinistically, Burmese President Thein Sein accused of Rohingya as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh and his hostile term for Rohingya is "Bengalee”. 

According to above dialectical chart, it is obvious that the Rohingya and the Bengalees are totally different in their languages. 

Quoting from British census, Charney says that in 1891 there were 126,586 Muslims in Arakan (most of whom were concentrated in Danra-Waddy, wherein sat the capital), comprising roughly 19% of the total population. This figure should not come as a surprise given the fact that in the 1830s, at least 30% of Arakan’s general population was Muslim. For the original number to increase to the 1891 number, only a growth rate of 2.24% was necessary. 

Recently, Burmese President Thein Sein has accused Rohingya for overpopulation in Arakan. The Rakhine Commission biased report which was released on 29th April 2013 has suggested the State to reduce the birth rate of Rohingya population. Following the commission’s report the Burmese government has immediately imposed a territorial Act “Two-Child” policy for Rohingyas in Maung Daw and Buthidaung on 17th May. The “Two-Child” policy is another strong evidence of gross human rights violation by Burmese government on Rohingyas. In fact today’s Rohingya population is merely 10 times more of 1891 census and government accusation of overpopulation is just a pretext to launch demographic warfare on Rohingya minority.

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