19 December 2011
THE PLIGHT ON THE ROHINGYA
By Nurul Islam (U.K)Introduction
The Rohingya are one of the most forgotten, persecuted, voiceless, and underrepresentedpeoples on earth. Their population is estimated to be more than 3 millions. Of them about 1.5millions are in diasporas particularly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia,Thailand etc. They are still willing to return to their ancestral homeland of Arakan in Burma.Their settlement in Arakan dates back to latter part of 7
Muslim massacre in Arakan
The Second World War had major bearing on the inter-communal relationship between theRohingya Muslims and the Rakhine Buddhists. In April 1942 communal riots flared upbetween the two communities and about 100,000 unarmed innocent Rohingyas weremassacred while some 50,000 were forced to take refuge in Bengal or adjoining British Indianterritory. A British Commander in Arakan Major Anthony Irwin remarked, “The Arakanbefore the war had been occupied over its entire length by both Mussulman and Maugh. Thenin 1941 the two sects set to and fought. The result of this “war” was roughly that the Maughtook over the Southern half of the country and the Mussulman the Northern… it separatedtwo peoples into two distinct areas of influence.”
British colonial government ignored Rohingya
June 1942 the Rohingya Muslims declared North Arakan as ‘Muslim State’ and‘Peace Committee’ was entrusted for administration of the area
(Maungdaw, Buthidaung andRathedaung area). In December 1942 Brigadier C.E. Lucas Phillips of British 14
Army cameto Maungdaw….After hard negotiation, the Peace Committee formed by Rohingya Muslimsheaded by Mr. Omra Meah and Mr. Zahir Uddhin Ahmed allowed the British 14
Armyreentry through the Naf border town of Maungdaw. As per Public Notice No. 11-OA-CC/42dated 31
December 1942, the British Military Administration declared the former MuslimState as “Muslim National Area”….On 1
January 1945 Brigadier C.E. Lucas Phillipsbecame the Chief administrator of the area and appointed members of Peace Committee asadministrative officers of the area. This represents a landmark in the history of Burmeseindependence. The British recognized the Rohingya Muslims as a distinct racial group and theBritish officer-in-command promised the Rohingyas to grant autonomy in North Arakan.
Butthe fact was manifestly ignored by the outgoing British. Neither their case was recommendedto the British colonial government nor to the Burmese leaders.
Gen. Aung San’s word of honor
In March 1946 “Gen. Aung San came to Akyab and sought the cooperation of the Muslims of Arakan. He met the Muslim leaders at Youngman Society in Thet Kaybin, at Akyab.”
Heassured the Muslim Leaders, advocate U Pho Khine, advocate U Yasin, advocate U Khalilur
Anthony Irwin, “Burmese Outpost” Collins Clear-type Press: London and Glasgow, 1945, pp 22-23.
“Historical background of Arakan”, an article by Md. Ashraf Alam in Souvenir, Silver Jubilee Anniversary(1975-2000) Arakan Historical Society, Chittagong, Bangladesh p.44.In History of Maungdaw Township (in Burmese) compiled by Township People’s Council, Maungdaw, 1980,p.65.
U Maung Tin, “Suggestion to Rohingya Consultation Forum”, Bangkok, Thailand, 2-3 August 2006, p.2