'Bengalis' Not Native to Myanmar, Country’s Military Chief Says

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Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (R) speaks with US Ambassador Scot Alan Marciel in Yangon, Oct. 11, 2017.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (R) speaks with US Ambassador Scot Alan Marciel in Yangon, Oct. 11, 2017.
Official Photo

The hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya who have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state amid armed clashes between Muslim insurgents and government soldiers are a people not indigenous to Myanmar, the country’s military chief said on Wednesday.

The people now called Rohingya were brought into Rakhine as laborers in the 1800s when the region was administered by Britain, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing told U.S. ambassador Scot Alan Marciel at a meeting in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon.

“The Bengalis were not taken into the country by Myanmar, but by the colonialists,” Min Aung Hlaing said, referring to the Rohingya as Bengalis, a term considered derogatory by the ethnic group.

“They are not natives,” he said.

And the records prove that they were not even called Rahingya, but just Bengalis during the colonial period.”

News reports have meanwhile greatly exaggerated the numbers of Rohingya who have fled the country as refugees into Bangladesh, Min Aung Hlaing said, citing “instigation and propaganda” by media outlets seeking to “hide the truth."

“The native place of Bengalis is Bengal. Therefore, they may have fled to the other country with the same language, race and culture as theirs by assuming they would be safer there.”

Myanmar considers the Rohingya illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has denied them citizenship, though many have lived in the country for generations. They have also been denied access to basic services such as education and health care.

More than half a million Rohingya refugees have crossed the border into Bangladesh following Aug. 25 attacks on 30 Myanmar border police posts by an armed Muslim insurgent group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

The attacks provoked a massive military response, with rights groups and the U.N. now accusing the Myanmar military of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing amid numerous reports of security forces indiscriminately killing civilians, burning villages, torturing people, and raping girls and women.

The Myanmar government has denied the allegations and blames Muslim militants for the killings of civilians and village torchings.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Comments (3)

Mohamed Haroon

from Maung Daw

Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)
Press release 15 October 2017

How Long You Lie To Deny Rohingya Existence

We strongly condemn the remarks of Myanmar Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing to American Ambassador Scot Marciel.

On 11 October the General said, “Rohingya are Bengali. The Bengalis were not taken into the country by Myanmar but by the colonialists. British colonialists were responsible for the problem. Their native place is really Bengal. They might have fled to the other country (Bangladesh) with the same language, race and culture as theirs, assuming they would be safer there. They are not the natives and the records prove that they were not even called Rohingya but just Bengalis during the colonial period.”

But the historical evidence or observation by Scottish doctor Francis Buchanan in 1795 proves “... Mohammedans, who have long been settled in Arakan, and who called themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan” The former Democratic government of Burma headed by Prime Minister U Nu had recognized Rohingya as an ethnic group of Burma equal to all other ethnic nationalities of the country. On top of that, as a people, the Rohingya have the UN-recognized group's right to self-identify.

We remind Myanmar civil and military leaders that the true history of Arakan must be studied with minus Bama/Myanmar if they sincerely want to know the Rohingya historicity. Arakan was an independent country for centuries having extensive relations with Bengal (not with Burma) in all fields, political, ethnological, cultural and economic activities. It was Muslims who paid extraordinary contribution to the development of Arakan, with their sublime civilization, towards advancement of administration, literature, agriculture and economic activities.
We emphasize that the ancient people of Arakan were Indian Bengalis and the language then used had no connection with the present Rakhine, who have been largely Burmanized in language, culture and life style. Here the root cause of the problem in Arakan is the Burman annexation of it. That is why the Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen said, “Rohingya did not come to Burma. But the Burma came to Rohingya”.

We reiterate that Arakan is our ancestral homeland, where Muslim rule and influence lasted for centuries particularly during the glorious period of Mrauk-U dynasty (1430-1784). Followings are some of the realities of Arakan.

Arakan was virtually ruled by Muslims from 1430 to 1531.(Statement of Col. Ba Shin, the then Chairman of the Burma Historical Commission)
Islam spread and deeply rooted in Arakan since 8th century from where it further spread into interior Burma”. (Sasana Ronwas Htunzepho, a book published by military regime in 1997)
The Mrauk dynasty was a new golden age of power and prosperity with hybrid Buddhist-Islamic court, fusing tradition from Persia and India as well as the Buddhist worlds to the east.
Muslim etiquettes and manners, system of administration copying the imperial courts of Delhi and Guar had been practiced. Taslim or Muslim salutation was performed in the king’s palace.
The Muslim played the phenomenal rule of kingmakers with Muslim Prime Ministers, Lashkar Wizirs (Defence/War Ministers), and Ministers, Qadis, other administrators and large contingents of Muslim army.
The kings had involuntarily as well as voluntarily to adopt Muslim names and titles “Shah” “in addition to Pali names and titles. Mrauk-U kings appeared in Persian-inspired dress and the conical hats of Isfahan and Mughal Delhi.
Members of the Royal families and class of persons enjoying superior intellectual or social or economic status also willingly adopted Muslim names.
Muslim Qazi courts had been set up throughout the kingdom of Arakan.
Persian and Bengali languages were patronized and used as the official and court languages of Arakan.
Coins and medallions inscribing kalima (Islamic declaration of faith) in Persian and Arabic script were minted.
The people followed the Muslim tradition at home. Buddhist women of those days practiced “purda”.

Muslim missionary works hit the highest point. People converted into Islam in groups.
Muslims were in control of trade and business. They were the main forces of agriculture.

For more details, please contact:
Australia: Dr. Hla Myint + 61-423381904
Bangladesh: Ko Ko Linn: + 880-1726068413
Canada: Nur Hasim +1-519-5725359
Japan: Zaw Min Htut + 81-8030835327
U.K. Ronnie: +44-7783118354
U.S.A: Dr. Habibullah: +1-4438158609

Email: info@rohingya.org

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Oct 16, 2017 01:47 PM

Thein Mg

1970: Bangladesh liberation war, Genocide by Urdu speaking Muslim of Bengali speaking Muslim more than 2 million victims and million more refugees into India and Myanmar.
1975: Bangladesh PM assassination million more of Muslim live lost and once again refugees into India and Myanmar.
see: https://limun.org.uk/fckfiles/limun_hs_unhcr
records of conversation between Mr. Kaiser banladesh Ambassador & Mr O'Brien UK ambassador in Yangon. British FO files,
admitting refugees from Bangladesh into Myanmar.
The Military Chief oversight in not mentioning the 190 refugees.

Oct 13, 2017 07:43 PM


Bengali Muslims are hijacking the Rakhine alternative identity "Rohingya".
All the Muslims who use the name Rohingya are identity thieves.
Rohingya mean Rakhingtha (Rakhine people) by Chittagonian Bengali accent.
The root of the problem is Bangladesh’s overpopulation fueled by lack of birth control. Bangladesh is the real culprit and is encouraging its surplus population to flood the neighboring countries including Myanmar.
Myanmar is only a scapegoat. Instead, the attention and international pressure should be directed to the Bangladeshi government.

Oct 13, 2017 05:28 PM





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