Not long ago, I was surfing the net and came across several interesting
websites, one of which was the Arakan Information Website. On the front
page was a flashing red book cover with the title, “Influx Viruses.” On the
side bar, was the question: “Who is the enemy?” It didn’t take me long to
understand that this was not a story reprinted from a medieval comic book
about ogres and monsters, but about chauvinistic ethnic groups in Burma
that promote hatred against other groups. I became interested in knowing
the story behind the demonizing fictions that such works disseminate.
I soon realized the very serious implications behind such material that
resulted in the extermination of the Rohingya people of Burma. This was
the very same hatred that resulted in genocide and the forced extermination
of people from their ancestral homes in countries across the globe.
At the international conferences I attended, particularly the recent one, the
UN Conference on Minorities and Stateless People in Geneva in 2007, I
was approached by scholars and NGO representatives interested in Burma
who asked me pointed questions: What circumstances could lead them
to demonize and commit genocide on their fellow citizens in Burma?”
Similar questions were repeatedly asked over and over again in conferences
I have attended. Providing answers to such questions necessitated me for a
study whose terms of reference are ambitious and include information on
a wide range of themes such as the history and Sociology of Burma and its
deep-rooted problems in relation to democratic development. To answer
such complex questions, I felt the necessity of writing this book.
This book began with the work on my thesis” Dynamics of Ethnic Relations
in Burmese Society” done in 1982 at the University of Windsor, Canada.
Certain chapters of the present book began as occasional papers published
online and still others originated in papers I presented in international
conferences in Kualalampur, Tokyo, Geneva, Lethbridge University in
Alberta, Chittagong and in Montreal. Therefore, to avoid repetition, it
is recommended that each chapter be read separately as a paper. Certain
terms such as Burma is used for the official name of the country Myanmar,
Rakhine sometimes applied to the Mogh or Buddhist population of
Abakan. For Rohingyas, I sometimes used the name Muslim of Arakan in
a broader sense.