From the military leadership down to NASAKA, the Rakhine police, in the civilian front RNDP and even some leaders closely working with Aung San Suu Kui, the problem with the Rohingya people have been seen as a case of dealing with”illegal immigration” of Bengali people to Arakan. Fortunately, contemporary research on Rakhine-Rohingya relations shows it is not about illegals in Arakan, Burma, it is about intolerance to a people, who are racially, culturally and religiously different from the mainstream racially mongoloid Rakhine-Burmese people.
Unfortunate though, even Burma’s new military backed government, the wolf in ship’s skin continues to call Rohingyas as the noncitizens of Burma. It has been done in compliance with the 1982 Ne Win’s Constitution Act that denied Rohingya Citizenship. Following this definition to the government, Burma is not actually doing anything wrong, it is only fighting against “intruders” into Burma who according to the authority came to Burma after 1824.
Fortunately, history proves over and again that Rohingyas didn’t migrate to Arakan from Bengal, they were already there as the indigenous people and others settled by the sea.
Contrary to the xenophobic understanding that Rohingyas are intruders into Burma, we see, successive Burmese invasions of Arakan led to the settlements of nonBengali people in Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh.
The most recent one history are the Rakhines in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh who settled there during the British period. Not surprisingly, it is the colonial legacy that there is perhaps not a single nation state on earth emerged after the colonial rule, where nations emerged with a homogenous ethnic or racial group. Rohingyas are no exception in Burma.
The recent anti Rohingya outbursts in the media by mostly Rakhine xenophobes, some of whom are even seeking asylum in the West by complaining about the military government at home are seen denying the Rohingya’s Burmese citizenship. This shows how half a century’s long Ne Win’s rule by fanning racism took strong foothold in Burma in general and in the Arakan state in particular. By extension, we also see this time how successful the Rakhine monk and the layman have been in hijacking the Rohingya issue. The success in the hijacking of the issue in the Rohingya massacre was done in the name of saving Buddhism.
The machete massacre.
In the recent history of racism in Arakan, beginning from the early signs of Rohingya genocide when we recounted Aye Chan’s characterization of the Rohingyas as “Influx Viruses” to the the recent June 2012 machete massacre, we can see how meticulously the pogrom was carried out by the Rakhine leaders with support from the vast network in the Rakhine population with the help of Burmese government fighting the “intruders”. The military’s past record in the 1978 and 1991 and its continued denial of the Rohingya people’s citizenship is an undeniable guide to its involvement.
As we see the faces of bloodied dead bodies, mostly killed by machetes, in one picture even a monk holding a gun, another monk dancing around a fire, this time, the hidden faces of Burma in Arakan is enough exposed. Like in Rwanda, it was in broad light, machetes and guns were used to kill the Rohingya. In the mean time, when the tragedy was unfolding, in Bangladesh PM Hasina has been witch hunting against Jamat was unwilling to allow the dying Rohingyas enter Bangladesh territory.
In the mean time, the West has been miserably fooled by the Burmese military backed government’s cat and mouse policy. This came as a promise to allowing democracy in Burma. The West in its wait and see policy also hopes that one day when Suu Kyi comes to power, she will allow the hungry entrepreneurs free access to exploit Burma’s natural resources. In reality though, every indication shows, it is never going to happen but only until the military bases that procreates racism for a divide and rule policy in Burma have drone attacks by the Western super powers coming from the sky and by land attack from Thailand and Bangladesh. This is likely to happen because Burma has both oil and its rich natural resources which would go hand in hand with a western directed movement for democracy in Burma.
In the mean time, Rohingyas continue to die on land and in the sea and the toothless UN keeps calling the continued Arakan tragedy and the fleeing of refugees a result of inter ethnic riot (strife). How can people say that when no reporters were allowed? Isn’t the same way UN experts reporting from former Yugoslavia, Cambodia and in Rwanda ignored the early signed and characterized the genocides as civil strafes until it was too late to save human lives from the knives of vigilantes and government forces. We remember only after innocent victims were silenced, there were eerie signs everywhere then only we began to call the events as genocides!
(Abid Bahar teaches in Canada).