How Big is the Rohingya Uprising by May Thingyan Hein


 The current situation in Sistway


At around 8 o’clock this morning, the military ordered the locals not to go outside with a group of people our reporter informed. In Sistway the local Muslims are surrounded by polices.


When being asked, a local Muslim from Sistway said “We have to go to the mosque to get water. The water pipe-lines were broken and we have not been getting water for 10 days. We get rice from the military distributions and donators from Yangon. We also get help from other social organizations but we are still having difficulties. We can go outside only one by one. A curfew is imposed in this area.”


As of one o’clock this evening, the situation seems to be restored back to normal in Sistway.


When I tried to reach a local Sistway yesterday, I was able to call an Arakanese dealer. His voice was trembling. “The Bengalis are setting Danya Watti monastery on fire. There are a lot of them. I also…” the line was cut before he could finish his words.


I called him again but there was no respond. I began to worry and tried to reach for the other numbers. After a while, I was able to reach a Myanmar lawyer living in Sistway.


“Polices are shooting to the air to scare them. The military is quiet so far. Both sides are burning buildings but Arakanese are outnumbered. Rohingya are many in number and it seems they are not afraid of polices.” said the lawyer.


After half an hour, our reporter from Sistway report in hastily tongue “Nazi village was surrounded by Bengalis. There are about ten thousands of them. They have sticks, swords and even guns. In the village, there are about two thousand people including polices. I am running, too. I just heard an Arakanese killed. I will report further information. This is all for now.” he ended the call.


The internet lines were cut off since the afternoon of June 10. Our reporter has been giving the news via phone. There were over ten thousands refugees in the Arakan State and they are in need of medication and food.


‘We need more aid because there are many refugees in different areas. It is over ten thousand. We are providing aid in twenty-seven places and there are also other groups helping the refugees. However, that is not enough for the refugees. We also need medication. Some of the people are injured.’ said a member of central committee of Arakanese Development Party (ADP).


Currently both Arakanese and Bengalis were injured. Because the current situation is complicated, no one can get the exact toll of injured and killed people. However, ADP has collected the refugee numbers.


The amounts of refugees in Maung Taw Township are 557 persons in Aungmyar Bawdi Dhamma religious building, 247 in Alotaw Pyae non-profit school & monastery, 70 in Baho monastery, and 3,000 in four-mile Police Station (2). Altogether there are 3874 refugees in Maung Taw Township and 4,900 in Sistway Township, 1,300 in Buthi Tong and 2,000 in Yatae Tong Township, according to surveys conducted by ADP.


The unrests were clamed in Buthi Tong and Maung Taw Townships.


A curfew was imposed in Maung Taw and Buthi Tong Townships since June 8 by the Township Government Department as a reaction on the destructions of houses, shops, hotels and Myoma Monastery. The first of the unrests were the case of Ma Thidar Htwe being killed and a follow-up killing of 10 Islamic travellers.


After that, thousands of Rohingyas stormed and raided Myoma Monastery and sparked the riots. Although I did not see the unrests with my own eyes, I am sure that the situation is worse in Arakan State. It needs to be considered that why the Bengalis are killing Arakanese, destroying monasteries and burning houses. Yesterday, I have heard the Bengalis are using motors and fire-powers to attack Arakan villages.


“In this case, Rohingya rebels are controlling Bengalis. What they do looks like they are implementing a decision.” one of my friends said.


Another friend said “The Bengalis from this area is called Rohingya. They have been living in Myanmar for so long. In current situation, the government and Arakanese are working together to cut food and water from them. They cannot go outside of their homes. If they do, the police shoot them.”


In international Medias, the cases are described a religious riots. Even in THE NATION news from Bangkok, it is written as the government is suppressing the Bengalis but the truth is that the Bengalis are destroying the country. It may be because they cannot access to the place and get the right information.


The internal Medias have their own reporters in the area and getting the information in real-time. They also interviewed and wrote the view points of the Bengalis.


On the internet the unrests are viewed in different perspectives: one is that the government is playing a trick to disturb the people’s attention on them; the other one is that the government cooperated with Arakanese to eradicate Bengalis; and the last one is behind the sight the Rohingya are planning to cause uncertainty to the government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and ask their own autonomy in the area.


I have read a lot on the opinions and think this should be decided only after knowing the historical background of the area and Rohingya. I understand this as a national-level important case. In fact, the Rohingya or Bengalis are not one of our ethnicities. And I also want to clear that not all the Muslims in Arakan State is terrorists.


Historical background of Arakanese state


If we look back to the history of the Arakan state, we can see it was combined together by 3 smaller states: Danya Watti (now Sistway), Yanna Watti (now Kyaut Phyu) and Maygha Watti (Man Aung). In the area, there were four different eras of civilizations. They were the civilizations of Danya Watti, Waytharli, Laymyo and Myaunt Oo.


According to the studies of National Historical Department, Danya Watti era lasts from 3352 B.C. to 327 A.D. and at the times of the ancient civilizations, their religions were Hinduism and Buddhism. From 1430 A.D. to 1784 A.D., there were no Muslims, and the Arakanese dynasties have 48 kings and only 9 of them produced coins in favor of Islamic style. It could be just because they had occupied SistaGaung (an Islamic state) and want to get respect of the locals.


Under the rules of Arakanese kings, the Muslims prisoners were given work in agricultural lands or services for the king. Therefore, Muslims from Bengal started to come into Arakanese state in fifteen century, the reports from Historical Department states.



Bengali Muslims entering into Arakanese state during the Colonial Era


According to historical evidences, Bengali Muslims started to pour into our country during the Colonial Era. After Badon Min, a Myanmar King, occupied Arakan city-state in 1785, the Anglo-Myanmar relationship began to get worse.


In 1824, the first Anglo-Myanmar war occurred as a result of Shinma Phu island dispute and was over by the treaty of Yandabo. According to the treaty, Arakan and Tanintharyi states had fallen to the British and they are combined with British-occupied Bengal states.


In 1839, the British government announced agricultural extensions so a lot of Bengalis from SistaGaung and Suyatis from Madayat moved into Arakan State. There are some records stating that even the British government warned that the increasing numbers of Muslim communities in Arakan state can be a problem.



The Bengali Situation after National Independence


Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League took governance after getting independence on January 4, 1984. At the time, there was a group to get Arakan area as a state. And also the Mujahit group which was founded before independence was getting stronger.


In 1984, the Muslim Liberation Conference was held in Kaya Byin village, Maung Taw Township and they officially founded the Mujahit Party. Their military leader was Jaffar Kawal and his assistant was Husein. Their requests were to regard the place between Kalartan River and Nat River as their National Home and to give them Myanmar nationality and regard as one of Myanmar’s ethnicities.




Even though the Mujahit uprising is an impact of the Second World War, it in fact is originated from the entering of Bengalis into Buthi Tong, Maung Taw, Kyaut Taw, Min Pyar and Myay Pone in 1824. Later the Mujahit groups Adu Zawli, B.A. Zaw Phaw and Zar Phaw combined together and founded “Rohingya National Liberation Party”.


The party offered peaceful cooperation with Arakanese parties: Arakanese Liberation Party (ALP) and Arakanese Communist Party (ACP). At the conference, ALP asked to combine everyone into a party and ACP requested to found a united front while Rohingya demands the followings:


To give them nationality status and regard as an ethnicity;

To announce Buthi Tong and Maung Taw as Rohingya National Home;

To give them 40% control of the state government.


In fact, their demands are just the enforcements of their decisions from the first conference. ACP stated the demands would be considered even though they cannot be given at the moment. However, both ALP and ACP had to accept their demands for the reason that they are very strong. The regional conference agreed.To impose Rohingya Party as the only organization of Muslims in Arakan State. To give them western parts of Maung Taw and Buthi Tong, Naung Chaung and upper parts of Naung Cahaung as their home landAnd the chairman of the military committee of the united front must be from Rohingya.


 Emergence of Rohingya


Until the Arakan state was invaded by British forces, there was no Rohingya.Also the word was not mentioned in the colonial era writings.


The word was first used during the Second World War and the Bengalis used it to convince that they were an ethnicity. In the historical evidences of Maung Taw, the word Rohingya was used by Communists to define the Mujahit rebels.


In 1950s, the Communists were cooperating with Mujahits in their attempt to remove Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League from government. On April 21, 1960, Adu GawPhaw, the Parliament Member from Buthi Tong, said in a press-conference that Rohingya is descendant of Arakanese, Patan and Arab and the language of Rohingya emerges from the languages ofArakanese, Bengali, Auyadu, Persian and Arab.


Although they were referring to the history, there were no evidences on Rohingya until 1947. Their movements were halted by the time Gen. Ne Win’s caretaker government came to power in 1962. In 1974, one of the Mujahit groups, B.A. Zaw Phaw was taken down by the Myanmar military and the Rohingya rebels fled to the neighboring country.


Under the governance of Burmese Socialist Programme Party, the formerly accepted demands of Rohingya were rejected and Muslims from SistaGaung were barred from entering into the party. However, their population was still increasing.


(article courtesy of May Thingyan Hein:

image courtesy of Yangon Press Internation: