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Forced Bengalization of Rohingyas is an Ethocide

Maung Aurther 
RB Article 
May 2, 2013 

Rohingyas, genealogically, the direct descendents of the early Indo-Aryans of Arakan, have been being subjected to a new form of ethnocide in Myanmar. The ethnocide is speeding up by means of forcing Rohingyas all over Arakan to accept the term ‘Bengali’ as their racial identity. It is aimed to deprive Rohingyas, the bonafide inheritors of the land Arakan, of their indigenous rights and obliterate them from their land. Hence, the term is unanimously, rather rightly, rejected by all Rohingyas in Myanmar and all over the world. 

Nevertheless, there is an operation being carried out against Rohingyas all over Arakan by joint groups of Arakan State Government, Immigration, Police, Military, NaSaKa (Border Security Force) and Rakhine Nationalists Development Party (RNDP). The operation has been under the banner of “Census on Muslim Population” but its primary target is to implement their ill-intended portrayal of Rohingyas as British-Time-Illegal-Bengali Immigrants. Now, Myanmar authority has started to forcefully Bengalize Rohingyas by various means: Arbitrary Arrests, Tortures and Threatening to their lives etc. 

Recently, there were brawls took place between authority personnel and already displaced Rohingyas at their camps in Akyab (Sittwe) when they (displaced Rohingyas) refused to accept the term ‘Bengali’ as their racial identity. Military and NaSaKa shot at the displaced Rohingyas and Rohingyas, in turn, exchanged throwing stones at the authority personnel. The heated brawls resulted in injuries to both sides. Authority returned without carrying out their project. 

Since then, authority has started arresting Rohingya intellectuals arbitrarily accusing that Rohingyas are refusing to follow the government orders due to their incitements. However, the reality is that Rohingya people, in general, are, on their own wills, refusing to be forcefully Bengalized because they have nothing to lose anymore but an only racial identity. A Rohingya victim in Maung Daw said “we have been dehumanized mentally and physically. We have nothing to lose anymore except for our racial identity ‘Rohingya’.” Therefore, arresting and torturing Rohingya intellectuals and threatening to their lives are double victimizations of Rohingyas so that they can’t even have a slim chance to rebuild their future again. 

As mentioned above, majority of Rohingyas are the direct descendants of the early Indo-Aryans of Arakan, who later came to mix with other races as the settlements of foreign people continued through its historical periods. Hence, Rohingyas are not but a people that have developed from different racial origins. However, how the term ‘Rohingya’, exactly like the term ‘Rakhine’, has evolved is still debatable. Whatsoever, the term has been in use as early as 17th century by the Muslim Arakanese as their racial identity. 

However, it will be illogical to deny any racial, cultural and linguistic similarities between Rohingyas and Chittagonian people. Denying their similarities mean denying the history. Right from the ancient time, the Arakan and Chittagong had been a closely-related region or used to be ruled by the same kings or rulers. Besides, Rohingyas, Bengalis, Indians (excluding south Indians) and majority of Pakistanis are of the same Indo-Aryanic Origin. Before 10th Century, these regions exclusively belonged to these Indo-Aryans. The present Mongoloid Rakhines of Tibeto-Burman group are the latest arrivers in Arakan with their forebears’ invasion of Arakan in 957CE. 

Nonetheless, it is common for one, today, to assume or get confused Indigenous Rohingyas of Arakan with Bengalis of Bangladesh. Such is the strength of the racist and neo-fascist media and propaganda of the Neo-Nazi Burmese regime and Bigotry Burmese. There were some Bengali seasonal workers who used to come to British Arakan from British India in search of jobs. They used to go back to their homes after the job seasons were over. Based on this ground, Rakhine racists try to justify their fascist views on Rohingyas that they are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. 

But what these racists fail to admit is that those seasonal Bengali workers scarcely stayed back in Arakan after their region had achieved independence from British. Bangladesh, the then East Pakistan, achieved its independence from British on 14th August 1947 and Burma did on 4th January 1948. Thus, it is logical to say that almost all Bengali seasonal workers returned to their newly independent land as Burma was still colonized by British. 

Moreover, Rakhines had been living in and around Chittagong area centuries before the annexation of Chittagong by British. Isn’t it logical to say that the unemployment problems in the region that led Bengalis to come to Arakan in search of jobs could be faced by the Rakhines living in the same region as well? Therefore, wouldn’t Rakhines, like Bengalis, also illegally come to Arakan to solve the same unemployment problems? 

Awfully enough, the bigots in Burmese society are not ashamed to say that Bengalis are still sneaking into Arakan. Now tell me why any Bengali with right mind enter a land which is ruled by one of the world’s most heartless despots leaving their democratic country behind, less economic opportunity (preferring over easily go-able developing countries like Malaysia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, India etc) and the poorest infrastructures. 

To mention again, in Bangladesh, there are both Bengalis and Rakhines living. If any problems such as population booming or famine occur in the country, they will be faced by both Bengalis and Rakhines. Therefore, both communities will sneak into Arakan. Why only Bengalis??? I wonder how serious is the selective amnesia that Rakhine racists have been suffering not to be able to apply the same logic to the people their own race!!! Can you be able to even imagine that immigration in Arakan, composed of Rakhine racists by two-third, will take bribe from and settle Bengalis in the land against whom they have been wolf-crying for decades of posing national and religious threats??? 

In reality, they are Rakhines of Bangladesh that are illegally sneaking into Arakan taking advantage of the presence of their own people in the Immigration, Police, and Administration etc while bucking up the blames on the Rohingyas who have been prone to persecutions and consequently leaving the country since the ascendance of the tyrannical Gen. Ne Win in 1962. All in all, historically, Rohingyas are indigenous to Arakan and forcing them to accept the term ‘Bengali’ or any attempt to eradicate their identity ‘Rohingya’ is nothing but an out and out ETHNOCIDE. 

Maung Aurther is an activist. He can be reached at:

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