European Rohingya Council (ERC) is deeply troubled with the lies and propagandas made by Rakhine state’s Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn in his interview with The Outlook India. ERC categorically denies and refutes his lies and distortion of truths with the factual information and findings.
Chief Minister said, “There is no persecution.”
ERC refutes: This is an utter denial and lies of the real situation on the ground, and is completely contrary to the findings by international independent researchers. The daily harassment, restriction of movements, education and livelihood, and denial of primary health care access come to its peak in Rakhine state. More than 140 000 Rohingya were forced to live in concentration-like camps, where they are dying every day because of malnutrition, curable and infectious diseases, and sudden attack by Rakhine Buddhist thugs, torture by police, etc. Similarly, those living in their houses are also not having any better life because of persistent persecution by both authorities and extremist Rakhine. To directly quote to the Professor Penny Green, from International State Crime Initiatives (ISCI) based at Queen Mary University of London, who conducted four months research in Rakhine state,
“The Rohingya have been subject to stigmatization, harassment, isolation, and systematic weakening. The Rohingya are faced with only two options: stay and face annihilation, or flee. Those who remain suffer destitution; malnutrition and starvation; severe physical and mental illness; restrictions on movement, education, marriage, childbirth, livelihood, land ownership; and the ever present threat of violence and corruption.”1
Chief Minister said, “There are two major ethnic groups in the state of Rakhine, those who have inhabited this land for a very long time and those who migrated from another country, the Bengalis. The term ‘Rohingya’ was not mentioned anywhere before the ’50s or ’60s.”
ERC refutes: This is factually and historically wrong, and genocidal in nature. This proves how ignorant, stupid, deaf and dumb the Minister is. A person with a sound mind can never lie to an international media in such way. Historical records show that both ethnic groups (Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya) have been living side by side for centuries in Rakhine state except a few thousands Buddhist Rakhine immigrants who migrated from neighboring Bangladesh during last decades, and their influx to Arakan has reached to its maximum especially after pogrom against Rohingya minority in June 2012. In fact, these Rakhine migrants should be called Bengalis. Despite mountains of evidence that Rohingya have been indigenous to the Arakan, and Rohingya have been recognized by four successive governments of Myanmar after independent from British colonial rule, persistent denial of their ethnicity shows the genocidal intent of Myanmar government. According to the scholar Dr. Habib Siddiqui,
“The term was in vogue since at least the days of Bodaw Paya’s rule in the late 18th century, and any curious researcher may find the mention of the term in history books and travelogues of Europeans who had visited the region. Consider, for instance, the account of Francis Buchanan, a surgeon with the British East India Company, who had traveled to imperial Burma in 1799 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 of modern day Myanmar [Burma].”2
Chief Minister said, “Granting such special status has other significant implications. It would entitle them to special social, political and even legal benefits. If they are given this privilege, their next step will be to demand separate statehood.”
ERC refutes: This is a textbook example of how the government of Myanmar has no willingness whatsoever to give equal rights of citizenship to the Rohingya. The government does not want Rohingya to have equal social, political and even legal status like other citizens of the country. This again proves the genocidal intent to destroy a community. Persecuting a community in every aspect of life due to perceived and delusional fear of demanding statehood is not only silly but also it is an idea which no longer belongs to the 21st century.
Chief Minister said, “There has been communal violence in the state. Not just 2012 but in 1942 they had carried out genocide in north Rakhine and an entire village was wiped out. Over 2,000 Rakhine people, including old men and women as well as children, were killed. The people of Rakhine continue to be afraid of them. They run away from them whenever they see them.”
ERC refutes: This is empirically and historically not only wrong but also quite dangerous. This is rather a manufactured lie to further escalate inter-communal tensions between two communities. These kinds of manufactured propaganda are indirectly promoting and justifying ordinary Rakhine Buddhist community to further commit atrocities against Rohingya, and must be condemned. In fact, there had been mass killing and genocide against Rohingya in 1942 pogrom. According to Abid Bahar, who studied subject of Rohingya since mid-1970,
“In 1942 Japan occupied Burma and the ultra-Nationalist Buddhists jointly massacred the Karens, the Mons and in Arakan the Rohingyas. Feeling the threat of extinction, and certain Rakhines determined to drive out the Muslims of Arakan, Muslim leaders officially took the already existing name for their suffering community as the Rohingya. However, Rohingya were conveniently identified by the Rakhine extremists as being Chittagonians. During the time of Japanese occupation, the number of Rohingya death in Arakan was staggering to be over 100,000. Rohingya call the event as the “Karbalai Arakan.” the bloodshed in Arakan. In 1942 when the British withdrew from Arakan, the Japanese immediately took over control of Arakan. The Arakanese xenophobic hoodlums began to incite people with the slogan, “our brothers came, and your brothers left you.” The hoodlums began to attack the Muslim villages in southern Arakan and the Rohingya Muslims fled to the North where they took vengeance on Rakhines in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships. Ashraf Alam provides a list of 294 villages destroyed in the pogroms of 1942: (a) Myebon in Kyaukpru District 25 villages; (b) Minbya in Akyab District 27 villages; (c) Pauktaw in Akyab District 25 villages (d) Myohaung in Akyab District 58 villages; (e) Kyauktaw in AKyab District 78 villages; (f) Ponnagyun in Akyab district 5 villages; (g) Rathedaung in Akyab Dsitrict 16 villages; and (h) Buthidaung in Akyab Distrcit 55 villages.” 3
Chief Minister said, “We are in the process of verifying their identities. Infiltration of illegal immigrants is a reality in most countries in the world. It is the same here and there is movement both in and out of the country. We need to check that and it takes careful scrutiny to distinguish between genuine citizens and illegal migrants.”
ERC refutes: The Minister is totally ignorant about what his government’s President discloses during an interview with VOA Burmese Chief, Than Lwin Htun on August 14, 2012. According to the President Thein Sein, “…there are almost no illegal immigrants to Rakhine state; those people were born from the people who already existed.” 4 In addition, Rohingya do not need to be scrutinized for citizenship because Rohingya are recognized ethnic and citizenship of Myanmar by four successive governments after the independence.5
Chief Minister said, “The Myanmar government has been urging them to respect and follow the law of the land.”
ERC refutes: The minister discriminately wants to portray Rohingya as those who don’t abide the law of the land. This is completely contrary to the reality. Rohingya are peace loving and law abiding people of the country, which has been on record throughout the history. When government is trying to impose a law, which legalizes the systematic and widespread persecutions to the Rohingya, it is not obliged for the Rohingya to abide by that discriminatory law.
Chief Minister said, “The people on the boat are believed to be victims of human trafficking.”
ERC refutes: Yes, they become the victims of human trafficking ring, where Myanmar officials actively involved in the pushing of Rohingya into the sea with rickety boat. “Not only are the authorities making life so intolerable for Rohingya that they’re forced to flee, but they’re also profiting from the exodus,” said Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights. 6 The root causes of Rohingya fleeing the country according Prof. Green,
“The Myanmar government’s ongoing persecution of the Rohingya minority has, in the last two years, reached a level so untenable that tens of thousands have been forced to flee on boats. The current exodus of those seeking asylum is just one manifestation of persecution consistent with genocide.” 7
Chief Minister said, “Incorrect information has been disseminated by the international media and the world community. Myanmar never turned away the boats. We are all human beings and stay on the same planet. Our first and only consideration is humanitarian. We believe that every person should have a country, no one should be stateless.”
ERC refutes: This is really funny that the Minister is completely lying in broad day light that international media is spreading false information; while international media is disclosing Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya with facts and findings in accordance with reality. Without having a sense of shame, the Minister is saying that every person has right to be citizen of a country while they are denying the already existed ethnic and citizenship status of Rohingya.
Chief Minister said, “People should come here and see the real situation instead of sending out false reports.”
ERC refutes: How can it be possible to go and see the real situation on the ground while the government is blocking even the humanitarian aids for the most oppressed people on earth? This is absolutely hypocritical. No journalists and observers are freely allowed to go and report the slowly-starving people of Rohingya.
Chief Minister said, “In Myanmar, minorities coexist harmoniously. There are four major religious groups, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims. But we cannot have separate laws for them; they must abide and follow the law of the land. The majority Buddhists are known for their love for peace. Religion teaches us tolerance, not to kill and harm people.”
ERC refutes: How comes a peace loving people can kill and burn Muslims people alive. On 3rd June, 2012, 10 Muslims were brutally killed by mob Rakhine terrorists in Taunggoke.8 Hundreds of Muslims were mercilessly beaten and burned into death in an organized mob attacks led by monks in Meiktila in spring 2013.9,10
1. International State Crimes Initiative, Press Release, Humanitarian crisis affecting Rohingya Muslims is the product of genocide, May 16, 2014, http://statecrime.org/state-crime-research/press-release-humanitarian-crisis-affecting-rohingya-muslims-product-genocide/
Habib Siddiqui, Maung Maung Ohn’s lies and distortion of truth about the Rohingya people, July 3, 2015, http://drhabibsiddiqui.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/maung-maung-ohns-lies-and-distortions.html
Abid Bahar, Burmese invasion of Arakan and the rise of non Bengali settlements in Bangladesh,Origin of the Tribes of Chittaging Hill Tract (CHT), https://rohingyasinternational.wordpress.com/history/
4. Interview with VOA Burmese Chief, Than Lwin Htun, President Thein Sein Discusses the Situation in Rakhine State, August 14, 2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L2-QRCs5s0.
5. Myanmar officially considered Rohingya a constitutive ethnic group indigenous to the north western borderlands of Burma & East Pakistan, http://www.maungzarni.net/2014/08/myanmar-officially-considered-rohingya.html?m=1.
6. Fortify Rights, Myanmar: Authorities Complicit in Rohingya Trafficking, Smuggling, November 7, 2014, http://www.fortifyrights.org/publication-20141107.html.
International State Crimes Initiative, Press Release,Humanitarian crisis affecting Rohingya Muslims is the product of genocide, May 16, 2014, http://statecrime.org/state-crime-research/press-release-humanitarian-crisis-affecting-rohingya-muslims-product-genocide/
8. Aljazeera, Rakhine Monk explained why Rakhine Terrorists killed 10 innocence Muslim Men in Taunggoke, December 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVnn36vyNwg.
9. Assed Baig, April, 2013, Eye Witness Accounts of Meiktila Massacre; Beaten, Burnt and stabbed, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/assed-baig/meiktila-massacre-eye-witness-accounts_b_3008012.html;
Physician for Human Rights, May 2013: Massacre in Central Burma, http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/reports/meiktila-report-may-2013.html?referrer=https://www.google.nl/
Khairul Amin – Chairman of European Rohingya Council
Dr. HlaKyaw Khubybe