Dear Gregory B. Poling:
Your Published Analysis: Separating Fact from Fiction about Myanmar’s Rohingya.
By Gregory B. Poling. Feb 13, 2014
In it you State:
“The British colonial government encouraged immigration to Myanmar from modern-day India and Bangladesh. This is a source of continued resentment within Myanmar, which is why 1823 was used as a cut-off for citizenship. The dominant narrative within the country is that the term “Rohingya” is a recent invention, and those who claim to belong to the group are actually the descendants of these colonial-era immigrants from Bangladesh.
But this narrative is demonstrably false. In 1799, Francis Buchanan, a surgeon with the British East India Company, traveled to Myanmar and met members of a Muslim ethnic group “who have long settled in Arakan [Rakhine], and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.” That would indicate there were self-identified Rohingya living in Rakhine at least 25 years before the 1823 cut-off for citizenship.
Even if the name “Rohingya” is too taboo to be accepted inside Myanmar, the historical record is clear that the ethnic group itself has existed in Arakan, or Rakhine State, for centuries. A significant Muslim population lived in the independent Kingdom of Mrauk-U that ruled modern-day Rakhine State from the mid-fifteenth to late eighteenth centuries. Many of the Buddhist kings of Mrauk-U even took Muslim honorifics. The evidence suggests that this community is the origin of today’s Rohingya. The group likely assimilated later waves of immigrants from Bangladesh during and after British rule, but it did not begin with them.”
My Response to clarify why I have some difficult in the recycling of certain ‘facts’:
You cite both Dr. Zarni and Rogers, are they the only know scholars of the Rakhine file and why did you leave an expert on Rakhine like Professor Leider out? Yyou do not mention of his work. You also do not mention Dr. Aung Thwin on why the takeover of the government of Burma occured. This presents a bias in presenting the facts. U Nu was a weak and terrible Prime Minster of Burma. Ask me or my family regarding all his antics. He nearly destroyed the country with his deals.
In your scholarly article you state, “The Rohingya and many of their international defenders are concerned that the census will mark the first step in a campaign to cement their status as non-citizens.” As a Fellow, it is mandatory to explore this topic with both parties having the same rights within this research area? There is the plight of the ‘Rohingya’ which we now know will not be a name used in Myanmar’s census. The plight is very real, we need to get them accepted and have them live together. To do this, the international defenders will have to make sure that those who brought papers or crossed illegally into Rakhine maynot be part of this ‘Rohingya’ group. This would be unfair to the Rakhine people. It would also be helpful if the international defenders would ask this group to learn either Burmese or Arakanese language. There are members who speak Burmese and I have met them in Canada. However, there are those who claim to be Rohingya and have no language skills of the country they claim to have lived in for centuries. International defenders must be fair and sort this out before they try to shove their truth down the throats of the Rakhine people or belittle them in the media.