Rohingya Accepting Bengali Classification Is A False Claim By Myint Kyine
By Nay San Lwin
April 24, 2014
Rohingya’s history has been altered by Myanmar government and Rakhine historians. The Rohingya, who are aboriginal people of Arakan became illegal intruders or immigrants in the view of Myanmar people. Even Rohingya activists and politicians are ready to debate the history of Arakan in the presence of international scholars, Myanmar government and Rakhine historians are not ready as the reality will be exposed.
Although Myanmar government originally made a commitment that the term “Rohingya” will be allowed to be registered in the census, they uncovered their real face just before a day of the census. When the donors for the census raised this issue Myanmar government has said it is internal issue. They ignored the international standards and human rights principles.
Since 1990s ex-Nasaka (Border security guard) have done head counting every year. Many thousands of Rohingyas have been tortured just because they claimed their ethnicity is Rohingya. All Rohingyas in Arakan state were forced to be Bengalis in the records of immigration department. On the other hand, the National Registration Cards issued since the 1950s were confiscated by force and replaced with temporary identity cards (White Card). No Rohingya got the right to claim their ethnicity and all White Cards were issued by using the term Bengali. The vulnerable Rohingyas were helpless. Their movement, marriage, births and all basic rights were restricted and they became the most isolated society in Myanmar since the 1990s.
Although they were targeted by the Burmese regime since the 1970s their open prison life has started in the 1990s. The dream of the Rakhine community is to wipe out Rohingyas from Arakan and establish independent country. In the eyes of Rakhines, Rohingyas are barriers for their plans. Myanmar government’s plan is to drive out Rohingyas from the nation as they want less Muslims in the country and Rohingya is the biggest Muslim community among other Muslims in Myanmar. So the two groups began a coalition and as a result, Rohingyas are now the victims of the genocide or ethnic cleansing or whatever you wish to name it.
The census in Myanmar is first in three decades. The quasi-civilian government led by ex-general Thein Sein has been claiming transparency. They changed their tactics to get funds from international community. Once the funds get in they repeated same attitudes as before. Before the enumerating, the Rohingya delegations met with immigration minister Khin Yi, deputy minister Win Myint and director general Myint Kyine about ten times. The officials repeatedly promised that the term “Rohingya” will be allowed and about 1400 Rohingya enumerators were allowed to be appointed. But the government has hired the protestors in Sittwe and other towns and launched a campaign that Rakhines are opposing it and that they are going to boycott the census if the term Rohingya is allowed. With every activity of Rakhines, the government is behind them. Masterminding everything. Nothing can happen if the central government is unwilling.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was removed from Arakan state just because they revealed the truth of Duchiradan mass killing. Malteser International and all INGOs were removed by using mob attacks because it was their plan to wipe out all INGOs before the census. The Rakhine activists claimed that the attack on INGOs in Sittwe on March 26th and 27th was organized by special branch police. The police circulated the list of the addresses of INGOs offices, residential houses and warehouses just a week before the attack was launched, according to Rakhine activists.
Immigration director Khaing Khaing Soe said that Rohingyas are boycotting the census but it wasn’t true. The Rohingyas from Arakan state welcomed the census and they were ready to participate and participated. The enumerators however, denied registering the ethnicity name of “Rohingya”. The enumerators stopped collecting the data once the question no. 8 is answered as Rohingya.
All Rohingyas in Arakan state claimed their ethnicity as Rohingya, therefore their data was not collected. However, Myanmar government negotiated with the Rohingyas many times to leave the ethnicity column blank. No one is ready to accept as the government will cheat them once they agree. In 1973 and 1983, all Rohingyas in Arakan filled up their ethnicity as Rohingya. Many Rohingya enumerators in those periods are still alive and are ready to be witnesses. Yet Myanmar government’s propaganda is that they claimed that they were Bengali in those time periods. The reality was the local authorities amended all the census forms at the immigration offices. They erased the Rohingya name from the forms and replaced it with Bengali.
Myint Kyine, Director General of Immigration and Population Department has been repeatedly questioning over Burmese exile media about where these Rohingyas came from. He said all other Muslims are descendants of India and others. But Rohingyas do not belong to any country, so they won’t accept this term. Well, I’ve rebutted that through my Burmese article, however Immigration Minister Khin Yi also echoed that nonsense question. The best quote here is Amartya Sen, professor of Havard University said “Rohingya did not come to Burma. But Burma came to Rohingya”. It is true. Rohingyas are aboriginal people of Arakan. Arakan was an independent kingdom and intruded by Burma in 1784. There is also primary source evidence that was recorded in 1799 by Dr. Francis Buchanan that the Mohammedans [Muslims] are long settled in Arakan and they called themselves “Rooinga” [Rohingya].
News posted by Bangkok Post on April 23, 2014 reads "More than 6,000 families came and told officials to register them as Bengali, now they realise they will only suffer if they miss this opportunity," said Myint Kyine, head of the Immigration and Population Department.
Myint Kyine has been propagating that over Burmese exile media since the time census started. In reality it wasn’t true at all. He is blackmailing the people to convince others that they are registering themselves as Bengali, why not you? This type of propaganda won’t work for the Rohingyas. Even people in Myebon, Pauktaw and some other towns were threatened by various means but they were not ready to fulfill the desire of the government.
Here I’d like to convey a clear message to Myanmar government that Rohingya identity won’t be compromised at any cost. The Rohingyas are ready to struggle for it.
Myint Kyine and other officials must stop propagating and the dignity of the government must be protected by allowing the people to register the term Rohingya. As a result of ignoring international standards and human rights principles, Myanmar government will be called by the world as “World Class Liar”.
Nay San Lwin is an activist and blogger. He can be reached via Twitter @nslwin.