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The Rohginya and the Rakhaing

By Professor Dr.Aye Kyaw America Burma Institute New York

{This paper is written in response to a conference on the Rohigya and the democratic movement of Myanmar, July 16, 2007 held in Tokyo. }

The Politics of Meaning The name Rohingya means the wandering people in the Bengali Language. They are living on their own feet and they are not settled at any place. In the Arakanese language they are called Lwintgya which means the people bloom up and fall down some where and they are the unsettled people. Both languages convey the same meaning. Linguistically, ra, ya,la and ,wa are interchangeable' therefore ra in Rohingya and la in Lwintgya carry the same changeable value. From "Mujahids" to "Rohingyas" In the 1950s, the movement for a State was led by "Mujahids" among the Muslims living on the boarders of Arakan and Bangladash.This political tradition is being carried out by the Rohingers who, according to this author's information, will establish a State called Rohinstan in 2008.The area of this State will comprise some land of both countries-Bangladesh and Myanmar. In the 1990s, the movement of Rohinger in the shadow of human rights became popular. The so called Burma specialists supported the movements without knowing its political objectives. Before 9/11 some of its leaders were disciples of the terrorists. In short Rohingas are Muslims. Their objective is primarily to gain a State. What ever other reasons they give are not important. Arakanese The Arakanese are called Rakhine which comes from Rakkhitta in Pali- one of the three sacred language of India, the other two being sankrit and Prakrit. It means the people who are capable of preserving and promoting, morality and Buddhism. In the Arakanese Chronicles this meaning is consistent both in writing and meaning. Therefore a genuine Arakanese means a Buddhist who is able to maintain Buddhist morality (not to kill yourself and not to kill others too) and to take care of his race. The Term Arakanese comes from a Pali word Aratkha, which means the people capable of protecting their own land and its neighbors. In the Arakanese inscription, it is mention as Aratkha Desa which means the land protected by its people. This name, Arakan is often referred to

Rakhaing by the foreigners. However, the Arakanese do not call themselves Arakanese. This is exactly like the Chinese who refers themselves as Chung Kuo, the middle country but not the Chinese. The name China comes from a combination of two Sanskrit words Chi and Na, which means sticky mud. In other word, the land where earth wares is made-chinaware. The Arakanese are also called mag which comes from a Pali word, Magadha, the name of a State where Buddhism flourished. Worth noting is the fact that in the Thai language phasa magadha means the pali language, therefore the language used in Magadha State was Pali. Accordingly, the Arakanese who live in this Magadha State for many years would have spoken Pali In addition, in Bangalese literature mag means awesome and fearful. Historically being decedents of Indo Aryan Race they had lived in Magadha State for many years. In terms of these findings, the major difference between the Rakhaing and the Rohingya is that a Rakhaing is a Buddhist and a Rohingya is a Muslim. The Rakhaing has a long history where as the Rohingya has a short history only after 1948.The Rakhaing are the genuine ethnic people and the Rogingyas are not. Ethnic Nationality In 1978 Dr. Maung Maung, then a State councilor invited U San Tha Aung Director General of the department of Higher Education and me to have the meeting in his office to discuss about the definition of the ethnic people in Burma. I could recall that Col, Kyaw Nyien who became Minister of Education in 1980 was sitting in the corner of the meeting room listening to our long discussion. The names of ethnic people are often mentioned in the revenue inquest of Bodaw Paya (1781-1819). In these records the name Rohingya is never mentioned. After a long academic discussion we decided that genuine ethnic people are those who live in Burma before the conclusion of the first Inglo- Burmese war (1824-26). This war is concluded by the treaty of Yandabo (1826). In other words the genuine ethnic people are those people living in Burma before the treaty of Yandabo. Those who came to Burma after 1826 such as Indian, Bengali, Chinese, and Jews are not native people of Burma .They are not genuine ethnic people. Rohingya appeared only after the independence of Burma (1948). In the British records I never come across the name Rohingya. "A study of Migration between Arakan and Bengal during the reigns of Arakanese Kings." Never mentioned the name Rohigya. In short, the Rohingyas are a new creation, which is not found in the Arakanese chronicles and in the British records as well. Their primary objective is to establish a State. On the other hand, The Rakhaing lost their land that they owned for many many centuries; they lost their religionBuddhism, that they preserved and promoted for many many centuries; and, more importantly they lost their race that they love and respected for many many centuries. Aye Kyaw New York Typing assistants HHK and AMS