Ro­hingyas – the most per­se­cuted com­mu­nity

Southasia - - NEIGHBOR MYANMAR -

The Arakan state in Myan­mar shares its bor­ders with Bangladesh and is in­hab­ited by two eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties – the Rakhine Bud­dhists and the Ro­hingya Mus­lims. The for­mer are in a ma­jor­ity while the lat­ter form the mi­nor­ity. The Ro­hingyas, num­ber­ing ap­prox­i­mately two mil­lion, have been en­dur­ing con­tin­ued per­se­cu­tion trig­gered by the eth­nic cleansing pol­icy of the coun­try’s mil­i­tary regime. About 1.5 mil­lion Ro­hingyas have been liv­ing in ex­ile in many coun­tries around the world.

Arakan was never a part of Burma or Bangladesh and was, in fact, a sep­a­rate re­gion un­til the Burmese King Bow­daw­paya in­vaded it in 1784. Arakan’s last dy­nasty ruled from the 15th to 18th cen­tury and was in­flu­enced by Mus­lim cul­ture to the ex­tent that the ba­sis of Mus­lim faith, the

kal­ima, was in­scribed on its coins. Ro­hingya Mus­lims are na­tives of that re­gion, as men­tioned in the fifth vol­ume of Asi­atic Re­searches. The colo­nial Bri­tish cen­sus records of 1825 A.D. show one Mus­lim for ev­ery two Bud­dhists in Arakan.

The con­sti­tu­tion of Myan­mar pro­vides in­dige­nous sta­tus to all peo­ple per­ma­nently re­sid­ing in Arakan or in the Union of Burma be­fore 1825. The Mus­lims, prior to 1825, were counted as one of the law­fully in­dige­nous races of Burma. But to­day the Ro­hingyas are termed il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Bangladesh and de­nied ci­ti­zen­ship rights.

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