Muslim Identity and Demography in the Arakan State of Burma
23 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2011
Date Written: October 26, 2011
Burma (or today’s Mayanmar) is a country of many nations – many races, ethnicities and religions. Racism runs deep and acts like a double-edged knife cutting through the fabric of the Burmese society, justifying hostility against disparate groups that have nothing in common either in language or in religion. And no group is treated as inhumanly as the Rohingya people of Burma, who live in the northwestern Arakan (Rakhine) state, bordering Bangladesh. The Burmese military government has denied them their citizenship rights declaring that they were a legacy of the British Colonization period whose forefathers had immigrated from Bengal (today’s Bangladesh). Its draconian measures and unfathomable atrocities and harassment have forced millions of the Rohingya to live either as stateless people in its own soil or as unwanted refugees elsewhere.
In this paper, the author examines the Rohingya issue tracing their history of settlement in Arakan and shows that far from the propaganda of the Myanmar regime and racists within the Burmese and Rakhine society, the Rohingyas are the Bhumiputras (Adibashis) – the genuine children of the land of Arakan. The author opines that the only way Myanmar can survive and evolve into a civilized state is not through the brutal and savage arms of injustice, denial, xenophobia, abuse and oppression of the minorities but a federal democratic framework that genuinely protects all ensuring their human rights and equality without any discrimination.
Keywords: Burma, Myanmar, Rohingya, Rakhine, xenophobia, racism, bigotry, Islam, minority rights, human rights, discrimination, citizenship
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