Thursday, March 14, 2013

No Rohingyas In Arakan History: International Experts!

Yakhine history conference in Mahidol univesity, Bangkok.
There is no Rohingya ethnic in Myanmar and the term Rohingya exactly means Bengali as Myanmar named it, international experts on Rakhine history said in a seminar held in Thailand’s Mahidol University on March 9.

The seminar was held with three objectives to introduction of Rakhine history to the international community; to dismiss the name Rohingya used by international media and to complete reliable references of Rakhine history briefed by international historians, chairman Kyaw Thaung of the organizing committee said.

Dr Jacques P Leider, research scholar and historian of EFEO (French Institute of Asian Studies), Professor Stephen van Galen of Leiden University and History Professor Aye Chan of Kanda University of International Studies gave explanation on Arakan history.

Dr Jacques P Leider explained about the existence of Arakan kingdom, Bodaw Phaya’s occupation to Arakan and political, religious and economic situations.

Dr. Jacques Leider giving presentation on Rakhine history.
There had been changes in political, economic and social sectors during Myanmar that ruled Arakan from 1785 to 1825. Rakhine high-class persons were punished by sending them in exile from 1785 to 1795. Administration was jointly controlled by Myanmar and Rakhine. Increased tax was collected and forced labour was seen from 1795 to 1810. Provisions were provided for Myanmar king’s battles.

Myanmar settled in Rakhine. Rakhine were in rebellion against the rule of Myanmar’s king from 1787 to 1815 and Rakhine people headed to the south part of Bengala for settlement. Rakhine people's economic situation started to change from 1815 to 1825. Myanmar’s king did not face any threat during that period.

Similarly Professor Stephen van Galen briefed on relations between Rakhine region and Bengala from 15th century to 18th century.

Dr Stephen van Galen briefed on the apex of the Rakhine kingdom in 1635, the increasing role of trade revenues when the Rakhine kings were powerful and Dutch's trade activities in Rakhine and Bengal.

Dr. Stephen van Galen from the Leiden University.
After 1638, Rakhine's control over the southeastern Bengal waned due to a shortfall in tax revenue. And Rakhine's economy stagnated after Chittagong was lost in 1666, he added. He also cited another reason for the impact on Rakhine's economy as withdrawal of Dutch businessmen.  

In his talks about 'From Rakhine cross-border settlement to ethnic violence', Dr Aye Chan explained the increased cross-border settlement from 1826 to 1975, more movements of Chittagong people, who become the majority in Maungdaw and Buthedaung townships. 

He said Bengali Muslim population increased from 58,255 in 1871 to 178,647 in 1911. The Bengalis had become the great majority groups in Maungdaw and Buthedaung townships representing 94% and 84% respectively of the total populations there.

He also explained mujahidin rebels' destruction of Rakhine villages and the mujahidin party's demands.   

"What I can say exactly is that those who call themselves Rohingyas are really Bengalis. This can be seen in the records of the colonial era. Rakhine State has no Rohingyas," the history professor said.

He then replied to the questions about the Rakhine history raised by those present.

Dr. Jacques P. Leider from EFEO.
Asked about the annexation of Rakhine State in the Bagan period, Dr Jet Pilder replied that there was no evidence for that. 

"I never come across the term "Rohingya". But Muslims settlers arrived in Mrauk-U around 17th century. They did not name themselves as Rohingyas then. Other cultures also reached Mrauk-U in the century. The first Dutchman arrived in Mrauk-U in 1608. There were many Dutch offspring with Arakan mothers in 1640. Mrauk-U can be said as a colorful town," Professor Dr Stephen van Galen from Leiden University responded to a question about the term.

"There was never a Muslim king reigned in Rakhine State according to my study paper about the 17th Century," he also answered a question.

"I also talked about it before. A man named Mr. Abdul Gaffa from Buthedaung, Rakhine State created it in 1951. Actually he made it up from the name "Roshang" or "Rohan". It's a Bengali word meaning Rakhine people," Professor Dr. Aye Chan of Japan's Kanda University of International Studies responds to a question about when and how the term became in use.

When a Bengali activist Htay Lwin Oo asked about Rohingya and the Rakhine State, Dr. Aye Chan said the term "Rohan" does not mean illegal immigrants.

RNDP Chairman Dr. Aye Maung.
"The seminar shows clearly that there is no Rohingya in fact. Dr. Aye Chan also explained everything about "No Rohingya in Myanmar". Moreover the Rakhine conflicts will be worked out only when the government tackles it. I am unhappy to hear about the clash. I wish it ends as quickly as possible," said Ashin Tayza who is a first-year student for Buddhism Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

History professors, diplomats, reporters and invitees from news agencies attended the seminar which also attracted more than 150 Rakhine Buddhist monks and students studying in Thailand. 

Besides, Aye Tha Aung and Dr. Aye Maung, chairmen from Arakan League for Democracy and Rakhine Nationalities Development Party also were present at the seminar.