The first part of the Talk On Rakhine Issue was below and other parts will follow on coming days as the Myanmar Army issues more on the topic:
Moderator: Good morning, distinguished guests, members of the diplomatic corps and our special guest Jacques P .Leider, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome all of you today talk show on “Rakhine Issue: Discussion on finding solutions” sponsored by Myawaddy Media Group. From my personal point of view, I feel that this is a very important issue as this is the first time event that we have broken the ice into the world in the current situation of Rakhine State.
First of all, I would like to request the panel members and participants to give a very warm welcome to Dr Jacques P. Leider. I will talk briefly on the opening remark of the discussion on finding solutions. So, the problem in Rakhine State is to be a bigger one like this. Looking back at the history the problem started even before the partition of Muslim Indians and Hindu Indians. At that time, the leader of the Muslim India Mohamad Ali Jinnah wanted the Muslim enclave in the northern part of Rakhine since then.
After the separation of Muslims and India which was Pakistan, India and East Pakistan, the northern area of Buthidaung, Maungtaw and Rathedaung that still in the territory of State called Burma. Before going on the topic, I would like to tell you about the well-known story of the Arab and the Camel or the elephant and the man. First, the camel asks for a pitch of just a nose and the head and the elephant ask for the trunk and head only. After a while, the whole body of the camel was in the tent. The Arab man the same happened to the men when the whole body of the elephant is in the tent and the man has to run out. So the proposal of the Muslim enclave in the northern part of Rakhine would seem like the same story.
There are many things that Muslims have been living in the northern part of Rakhine for many centuries. It is true we accept that. Please let me point out some very few things. The name Buthidaung, Maungtaw and Rathedaung are Rakhine and Burmese names. Buthidaung in Burmese means the hill of the GOURD FRUITS. And Maungtaw was the name of the local administrator, Maung Taw. And Rathedaung in Burmese means the hill of the hermit. So,I would like to tell you all names Buthidaung, Maungtaw and Rathedaung. All are the territories of the traditional Rakhine and other ethnic minority groups, not of the Islam or Muslim groups.
If you now look at the international arena, there is a very straight word called Islamophobia. Due to the mass migration of north African people to the southern Europe, People in Europe are now feeling about the heat of the Muslim population explosion. So, when it comes to the Islamophobia, I can say that Myanmar is no exception in that case.
The problem in Rakhine is seen by a broader picture just tip of an iceberg which is the world domination aim of the Islam. In the regions of many other places such as southern Thailand, southern Philippines and Nigeria are facing the same expansionism problem. Another point I would like to highlight is the most important part of my discussion. It is the reporting of the international mainstream media because in Buthidaung and Maungtaw sixty years ago, the population ratio of the local Burmese and the ethnic Rakhine to Muslim influence Bengali settlers stood at 97 to three. 97 ethnic group and three percent Muslim Bengali people. But now it is flipped to three to 97. Now the local population is just three percent.
|Moderator U Than Aye.|
Not like the exaggeration, allegations or negative reporting. Another thing I would like to point out is that in Rakhine Bengali settlers are not only the Muslim communities there are also many Muslim communities such as Kaman who have been living in this land for centuries and served under successive Burmese Kings as royal archers. If you go to Rakhine Area and try to find out you will not see any problem between Kaman or Rakhine, Mro, Daingnet, and Burmese ethnic groups. These Kamans have been enjoying the Myanmar tradition, Myanmar citizenship for centuries. From the geopolitical point of view, Rakhine is at the start of Chinese oil and gas pipelines which was established by the People Republic of China. I feel that it is now wonder Rakhine is being created into a certain hotspot. It could become a regional security issue. Now is the term of my esteemed scholar who will discuss with in-depth knowledge in analysis of Rakhine Situation. Thank you very much.
Dr Jacque P. Leider: Respective audience, thanks for the invitation and the Rakhine Introduction. I am surprised to be invited to this talk today. As a historian, I am able to share some lines on the complex issues that we are going to discuss today. Whatever we say, we will be criticized.
That will I say be criticized those who have different interpretations. History needs to get true facts this kind of discussion and different perspective. There would be there might be controversial. We should not be afraid to express our different opinions but also have the patience to listen to each other. Now I am glad as I was invited as a foreign academic. And I was told I could express myself freely.
So I want to express my appreciation for that and to declare to share my views as a historian. We have already been having discussions very lively discussions before the talk show. And I think that we don’t agree on every point. I am happy we don’t agree every point. Otherwise, this would be very boring. And it would not be a very lively conversation. I want to say clearly my personal opinion in this matter. If it does not come, it doesn’t matter. I want to relay to information that I have gathered in my work. And I also want to say that ultimately it is the Buddhists, the Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and their children who will have to find a way to live together. He’s, not me, not Kofi Annan who has submitted a report. Not any other experts are talking about Rakhine State. We are not going to live there.
|Dr. Jaques P. Leider.|
The perspective as they are described in the media and I agree with the moderator did not really change and this was not help in this very difficult time. I would like to say my part just as an example. It has not been mentioned. Then now, in this very difficult moment one community does not we did see that kind of riots that we saw five years ago. In Rakhine state, the army is accused of human rights violation and even the genocide. The foreign media sees the army as the main aggressor. But for many people inside the country they do not see the role of the army in the same way. Now in this statement I would like to be heard U Ko Ko Hlaing who makes in this introductory statement.
U Ko Ko Hlaing: Thank you, distinguished guest, moderator and Mr Leider. And also I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the organizer, Myawaddy Media Group for arranging this event. I think this is the first time in Myanmar to talk such a sensitive issue on level-playing field along with the international scholar.
So in my introductory remarks, I would like to start with at this disclaimer. Even though I am a former military official, but what I speak in this talk is nothing concerned with any state institution including army, Myawaddy Media Group or any government agencies. This is my own assessment, my own opinion. This is the first point. It is very important I think. Another one is that my intention to participate in this topic that is not to provoke, distract or animosity or any negative things to worsen the current conflict. I would like to contribute for finding a solution for this issue. Enough is enough. This is time to consider the effective way to solve this longstanding conflict. I used to say that chronic as well as acute disease of our society.
But to solve the problems all the analysts agree that we need objectivity, impartiality, to make a comprehensive and thorough analysis to find the truth. I totally agree with Mr Moderator, the right to know the truth but the truth is not a single dimension. Generally, the truth is like two-sided point. We need both sides to see but unfortunately, international media could portray this issue I am very sorry to say one-sidedly.
They portray the real perpetrators, real culprit, the bad guy, Myanmar military, Myanmar government, this country, and the other side they elaborated the most persecuted minorities in the world. They are victims. That is followed the political correctness or the moral superiority to protect the victims to protect the weak it is a must but there is a moderator mention about that in the conflict area. The native people are minorities, real minorities focusing on 93 percent now that’s why I choose my title for the local narrative. Form the local point of view what happened here, I would like to show some pictures.
The international media will neglect, Myanmar which is very famous in religious harmony and religious tolerance. You can see the heartland of Yangon, the biggest, the largest city in Myanmar is situated Sule pagoda. You can see the right side of the pagoda Sunni Bengali Qulia Mosque. I will tell you one more time “Sunni Muslim Qulia Mosque.” Since the time of the colonial era, it established within the original parameter of Sule Pagoda. We tolerated. Now the people of different faiths pay the respective religious rituals very peacefully together. Just across the road. You can see that. This is the reality in Myanmar. And in this picture you can see that Emanuel Church near the pagoda. Within I think half a kilometer. If you walk to another block, there will be a Hindu Temple. There will be Jew Synagogue. There is also a Chinese temple. You can hardly find such sort of things in other countries, even in democratic countries. I think we are the model of the religious harmony. But in the international media you can see such sort of pictures frequently.
A few minutes ago, I watched the BBC channel. In the channel, the debate of the most persecuted minorities crossing the Naf River entering to Bangladeshi refugee camps. Who did it? The theme is that they present to elaborate, to explore who is the real culprit. We are accused that Myanmar army or Myanmar government burning those people’s villages. Now you can see that if the military burnt down the villages, how would they put out that fire like in this picture who burned those villages. I will show the pictures you can see who are burning. This is evidence, real evidence.
|U Ko Ko Hlaing.|
The world should see such sort of those pictures. This is not lies. These are not lies. These are realities. I don’t want to show these pictures for any provocations or any mutual hatred among these societies. I really would like to contribute to solve this problem once and for all if we can. But it is a very complicated matter. We need more comprehensive thinking, more thorough understanding. But it is really happening in those areas. We need to find who the real culprits are and who the real perpetrators are. In my opinion, innocent grassroots people of both sides are victims. Who are the real perpetrators? The extremist terrorists and the wicked politicians are actually seeking to provoke communal conflicts, racial and religious tensions to destabilize those regions by using all sorts of methods to gain their own objectives. We need to realize that reality. We don’t need to go into the traps of those people. We need to unite to solve those problems of all these societies of these religions. That is my introductory note. Thank you.
Moderator: From now on, we will go to the first topic.
Dr Jacques P. Leider: The first topic it was announced is to talk about to determine that we shouldn’t use the term “Rohingya.” Now, I want to start and say that a few years ago in 2013. In 2012 and 2013, I was asked. Can you explain us this works for sometimes? And then I tried to explain for sometimes in 2013 and 2014. When I started explaining I was told that you have to use that word. That was the pressure. Use that word. And as we know inside the country, it is a term that is not seemed as acceptable, but the whole world, outside Myanmar, is using now.
It is not about the word. I think we should be more or less over. It is about the problems that are behind. And that is the political problem. If we get back to the academic talking about the word, I say the word it doesn’t mean anything to us. I have been talking with the specialist of the linguistics. In the local dialect of Shewdagon and in this area of east Bengal, Bangladesh, there was a Rohan from where the term came so that’s sound rather simple. Where is the problem? The issue came because the term was adopted by a movement. That was mainly a political movement. Because what happened after the second world war is that Rakhine in Rakhine State as much as the Muslim people were not in Rakhine State.
They were competing for political influence. They were competing with each other. They were competing for the political influence. Among the Muslims, there was like a younger generation coming up in the late 1950s, they would not appear. There is like we need our rename. So it’s a political option. It is a political choice from that time. In 2012, people who are asking Myanmar about this name if they have. So we didn’t know that name. We chose that for a very long time. The name had neither being known neither being popular at all. So we was more easily rejected it by everyone in the country. It had existed mostly abroad. That was probably one of the main reasons that were totally rejected. So that is my short background with this one could go on and talking now about how the term was used.
Many of you know I have tried to research some issues because I knew about this for a long time but I have never done any other kind of investigation. After 2012, there were so many foreigners in Myanmar and outside who say what this is called about. Who are these people? I may recall some of you here you would know that the term was actually used the first time in India in 1960s. But the term was only appeared 30 years later in the academic article “The Taiknal” in the western countries. So this is a little bit to highlight the complexity of this terminology why and how it had been ignored.
Moderator: From what I understand, let me explain to you a little bit. Although Rohingya is spoken in one word, it was written in two parts. Rohin is Begali in Rakhine. Kya means “long” in Myanmar. In Bengali “Gya” means “live.” Rohin means the one who lives or works or comes back or returns from Rakhine. Generally, Rohingya means a term “the one who works or lives temporarily come back from Rakhine to Bengal” that is the general understanding of the word “Rohingya.” Is that Rakhine dialect or Mro dialect or any other ethnic dialect in Myanmar? Last night, I checked them the British government in 1901 and no one can be found that the word “the Rohingya population.”
U Ko Ko Hlaing: My turn, they will define word Rohingya. And also I would like to try its implication when he had been in Amarapura with spoken different languages. And they were Rohingya who came from Rakhine when Burmese kings occupied at that time Rakhine kingdom and then brought back all the people including them. So, actual request only originally placed.
It was because they came from Chittagong. But as Moderator mentions no Rohingya word had been found in the British official documents, especially in Akyab District Gazetteer by this remarks. He described the ethnic groups at that time in Akyab district, Sittway District Gazette including Buthidaung-Maungtaw. So Arakan at that time Burmese, Mahamadin, Thet, Daingnet, Chaungthar, like that. No official statistic shows the word Rohingya. I can’t that it throughout British colonial time. British were very very like to think detailed knowledge whatever they arrived. They deposit everything concluding cemetery in the maps, in the gazetteers and records. Why they didn’t show word that every official document in my understanding. This is no real existence of the ethnic group Rohingya. That’s very clear why it happened in this era? That is the politically motivated things developing identities as the moderator mentioned of the British-Indian, history of the Pakistani-Indian at that time Muslim of the Northern Arakan. They would like to join East Pakistanis who are the same faces like relatives. They tried, they integrated with East Pakistan. They were requested them in Akyab the leader of the Muslim league, Indian Muslim league among other religions.
To let them join into his potential Pakistan. But according to history at that time Burmese leader General Aung San had the talks with Mr. Jinnah during his trip to London. So Jinnah went out the genuine situation and gave rejected idea of those people from northern Arakan. No District. So after that event in desperation, those people tried to revolt in entire of the Union. Even before the Independence of this country, at they were called it the Mujahidin movement. No our words. But that attempt failed and they tried to the political arena. They tried to develop. They tried to create. They need political identity for the legitimacy. This is my understanding it may be right or wrong. But the theme is but the word Rohingya, of course, the Myanmar people printed media in 1960. From then on, step by step it’s going to identity crisis. Rakhine people they cannot accept that name because the real meaning of the Rohingya was not accepted as the actual native of Rakhine. So Rakhine people in Rakhine State, I am not the Rakhine but I know Rakhine people’s feeling if they are the native of Rakhine.
Perhaps, where we have to go? That’s feeling. That’s why in Myanmar even the name became political issue. So that’s why we pay more attention to this name. And nowadays, this name we like it or not and widespread in international media also even in the United Nations without acceptance of the host country. This is movies I may long for. This is I think that this beyond its mandate. I may be long but I am feeling like that. OK.
How about that created name and this is politics. The people enjoyed to use this name to that the Refugee status in Asian countries. Especially even though they are not from our countries, but they are blood relatives. They can speak the same dialects. And they can come themselves. Rohingya in our neighbouring country, offices of the UNHCR released that refugees and after that they can actually work illegally because refugees cannot work.
According to the convention, but they worked in those countries’ industries as very low-paid workers. They become two time workers. They get a lot of prof it and also prof it at the country by the human trafficking gains. They carry those people from Bangladesh, Chittagongians, shows our territory and then to Thailand and then to Malaysia like that. When they seek or ask by the media, they then themselves have the Rohingya from Burma like that. International media are really happily to accept that time without clarification well what happened that I would like to show a picture. This people from Chittagong or other parts of Bangladesh they seized by Myanmar Navy within our territorial water. At that time of the very notorious boat people are episode the last couple of years ago.
According to the 1982 Law, we can accept who are in line with that law. We don’t deny the citizenship. We don’t treat they all are illegal migrants. Thus, the international media wrongly debated that. Especially former President U Thein Sein when met with UNHCR chief. In his term, he clearly stated that he will accept those people they are eligible citizenship but if those who are not eligible we will arrange them according to the international practice or international law.
(To be Continued )