I would like to take this privilege to request Dr. Dipu Moni to kindly take the following thoughts of mine into kind consideration.
1. Border, especially maritime border dispute is a common feature for the nations separated by a flowing river and ever-changing current. However, when it comes to the determination of economic zone and development of the natural resources and industries in the disputed area tension could grow high and border wars have occurred in the world.
2. Border fencing is a hysteria created by previously Rangoon and now Naypyidaw. On the other hand it has become a phenomenon in the world as per examples set by China Great Wall and recent India and American fences. Since 1978, the Bangla-Myanmar border tension has been created by the fallout of Burmese internal war between the ethnic Rohingya-Rakhine and Rangoon forces. More than two hundred thousand Myanmar Muslims were driven out into Bangladesh, with the charges that they are the Bengali illegal immigrants. This is a serious accusation and Dr. Dipu Moni must be prepared to face it firm and strong. Recently, the Myanmar authorities, as usual, refused to accept the responsibility of the Rohingya boat-people with the limp excuse that they are the illegal Bengali in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
A Myanmar Consulate General by the name of Ye Myint Aung at Hong Kong went further to say that they cannot be Myanmar because they are dark-brown and ugly as ogres. When we pull the string it can be construed that the diplomat said Bengali are dark-brown and ugly as ogres. In this regard, the Irrawadday News Magazine at http://www.irrawaddy.org/cartoon.php?art_id=15109 has put up a good punching cartoon, featuring Dr. Ibrahim Gambari who is the United Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar. Nonetheless, it is pleasing to see that the international community does not pay any serious note to these Myanmar racial slurs. Myanmar is considered handicapped due to her congenital infantile disorders of right-wing ultranationalist democracy. Had an American diplomat uttered such racial slurs there would be uproar all over the world.
3. The question now is how long the Rohingyas will be able to tolerate. If pushed to the extreme a revolution could and would break out destabilizing the region. They are the Muslim descendants of the Arakan Empire which onetime ruled from Dhaka in the West to Pegu in the East. The Arakan Empire was founded in 1430 C.E. by a Rakhaing King named Saw Mwan alias Narameithla with the help of 30,000 Bengali soldiers provided by Bengal Sultan Jalaluddin Shah.
The Arakan Empire lasted until 1666 when its commercial center, Chittagong, was seized by the Mogul. In those two hundred plus years of Arakan Empire, there is no question that there existed Bengali settlement in the mainland of Arakan, which is now the Rakhine State of Myanmar. World historians recorded the Muslim settlement in Arakan and Burma long before the days of Arakan Empire. Those Muslims who settled in the Arakan Empire are now known as the Rohingyas, a term derived from Rakkhapura which is the ancient name of Arakan. The descendants of Rakkhapura Kingdom are known as the Rakhine, Rakhaing, or Rakhaingthar. The terms ˜Rohingya and ˜Rakhaingthar™ are two sides of a coin.
Both words, ˜Rakhaingthar and Rohingya, derive from the Sanskrit word Rakshak, which is the variant of the Pali word Rokkha/Rokkhi. Both ˜Rakshak and â€˜Rokkha/Rokkhi mean defense or military. In India, the Indian Military is called Bharat Rakshakâ. In Bangladesh Proti-Rokkha means ˜National Defence and Rokkhi Bahani means Defence Militia.
In terms of Sanscrit and Pali language, a Rakhaing/Rakhaingthar, Roshang/Rohangya, or Rohong/ Rohongya simply mean a soldier, a comparable term to Rakkha Chaylay (herd boy or guard boy) of Bangladesh. In view of history it is noteworthy that Rakkhapura means a soldier village or a military cantonment. It probably originated as a military outpost of the Brahmaputra Civilization in the ancient past. Bangladesh historians and archaeologists are now finding evidence of the Brahmaputra Civilization in Rajshahi city of northern Bangladesh.
In the Buddhist chronicles, the Brahmaputra Civilization is known as the Mizzimadesh, pronounced Mizzima deytha in Burmese, and it begins at Magadha and ends at Arakan Mountains. Rakkhapura or Arakan was not associated with Burma until the Burmese King Maung Wynne occupied it in 1784, violating the Arakan-Burma border treaty signed by the Arakan King Khari alias Ali Khan and the Burmese Ava King Narapiti in 1454 CE. In a Bangla-language book titled â€˜Arakan Rajsabhay Bangla Sahitya (1600-1700 AD) by Dr. Muhammad Enamul Huq and Sahitya-sagar Abdul Karim Sahitya Visarad, Gurudas Chattaopdhyay and Sons, Kalikata, 1935, it is mentioned During the 17th century AD when Muslim in Arakan nurtured Bengali Literature, the Muslim poets of that time identified the country as Roshang.
Therefore, Roshangya or now Rohingya (a Myanmar corruption) is an ancient term, not an invention of the Arakanese Muslims 1958 as per Myanmar authorities and historians claim. The terms date way back to pre-Bengal and Pre-Myanmar era. A visit to Rashahi Varendra Research Museum and other museums in Dhaka and Chittagong will render good evidence in support of the above statement. On the basis of the Myanmar 1990 election data, I calculated that there were 1.87 million Rohingya Muslims and 2.13 million non-Rohingyas in the Rakhine State (see my book The Price of Silence, p252).
4. The negation of the Rohingya people is not confined to the junta. To great dismay the Myanmar democratic forces such as the heavy-weight National League for Democracy (NLD), Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD), National Coalition Government of Union Burma (in exile), National Democratic Font (NDF), and Rakhine academician-historians jumped up and sided with the military junta, committing the political genocide to the Rohingya people. Therefore, Dr. Dipu Moni cannot expect that the Rohingya issue would or could be solved in 2010 or later. The problem will persist for the decades to come.
5. It is the nature of the Myanmar authorities to back their political actions with the military might. Bangladesh has experienced it frequently. At present, Myanmar bullies around the region with army of 500,000 soldiers. Dr. Dipu Moni should make the Myanmar authorities understand that Bangladesh can raise her fighting force to a million-strength overnight and Bangladesh Navy and Air Force are superior to Myanmars.
At Naypyidaw, the Bangladesh delegation will see three famous Myanmar Kings, Anawratha, Kyansitha, and Bayinnaung. Please remember that Bayinnaungs Second Myanmar Empire (1540-1599 CE) was put to an end by the Arakanese King Razagri alias Salim Shah Sultan in 1599. He was known as the Emperor of Pegu. Major portion of the Arakan Royal Army was made up of the Rohingya and Portugese soldiers. This is one of the reasons why the Myanmar military government and pro-democracy forces alike are negating the Rohingyas. Vindictive they are! The Rakhine people are now totally Burmanized and do not pose any threat to Myanmar neo-empire, but the Rohingyas do because they were the people who liberated Arakan from the hands of Burmese in 1430 and founded the Arakan Empire.
Please allow me to refresh Dr. Dipu Moni's knowledge bank that Arakan King Razagri, as per tradition of the feudal conquerors, married Bayinnaungs grand daughter Princess Khin Ma Hnaung and, upon her request, appointed her brother as the Governor of Chittagong. The descendants of the Burmese Prince are now the chieftains of Bandarban and known as the Bo Mun and well placed in modern Bangladesh. Myanmar government and people should appreciate that Bangladesh and Bengali people have preserved their Emperor Bayinnaung blood.
6. Dr. Dipu Moni may kindly remind the Myanmar authorities that the Union of Myanmar (Pyihtaungsu Myanmar Naingan) was the outcome of the united struggle of the people, including the Muslims, of British Burma. Therefore, the Burma Citizenship Act 1982 is feudal and colonial in nature and as such shall be repealed. The Union of Myanmar is a nation-state but not a continuation of the feudal Myanmar or tribal nations. Accordingly, Myanmar shall duly recognize the Rohingya cultural identity, which is a mix of Bengal-Myanmar culture. More than six hundred years after their original settlement in Arakan in 1430 CE they are now more Burmese than Bengali. Their loyalty is with Myanmar. They should be given equal rights like other ethnic people of Myanmar and allowed to enter into the main stream of national and political life. If the Myanmar authorities still insist that they are Bengali and continue dehumanization and ethnic cleansing, then Bangladesh and Bengali people will have no choice but provoke the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). This could sadly mean a repetition of 1430!
7. Finally, when no more bearable probability is high that a Rohingya revolution could and would break out. If so, Myanmar must bear full responsibility of the consequences.
End and thank you.
( Dr. Shwe Lu Maung, Ph.D., is a biological scientist and author of two books, ?urma Nationalism and Ideology (Dhaka, 1989), The Price of Silence (USA, 2005) and numerous articles on Burma and Arakan. He is also a former Central Committee of Democratic Alliance of Burma, Diplomatic Representative of ALD (in exile) and Patron of the Arakan Democratic Forces. He is a full-blooded Rakhaing who honors the compatriot Rohingyas for their partnership in building the Arakan Empire. He is now a US citizen and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and http://www.shwelumaung.org).