BookPDF Available

Transmutations of the Rohingya Movement in the Post-2012 Rakhine State Crisis

Edited by
Ooi Keat Gin and Volker Grabowsky
Ethnic and Religious Identities and Integration in Southeast Asia
Edited by Ooi Keat Gin and Volker Grabowsky
is stimulating volume analyzes the impact of ethnic change and religious
traditions on local, national, and regional identities.  rough the lens of
identity, the authors explore and appraise the level of integration within the
political borders of Southeast Asian nation-states and within the region as a
Case studies include the Bru population in Laos/Vietnam, hill tribe
populations without citizenship in northern  ailand, the Lua also in northern
ailand, the Pakistani community in Penang, the Rohingya in Myanmar,
the Karen Leke religious movement in  ailand/Myanmar, political Islam in
Indonesia, Su Muslims in  ailand, pluralism in Penang, the Preah Vihear
dispute between  ailand and Cambodia, and hero cult worship in northern
Historians and social anthropologists variously tackle these issues of identity
and integration within the kaleidoscope of ethnicities, religions, languages,
and cultures that make up Southeast Asia.  e result is a rich, multifaceted
volume that is of great bene t to students and specialists in unraveling the
complexities of national and transnational dynamics in the region.
ooi   is an award-winning author and editor, a professor of history
and coordinator of the Asia Paci c Research Unit (APRU-USM), School of
Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia.  grabowsky is professor of
ai studies at the Department of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia,
University of Hamburg, and speaker of the Asia-Africa Institute.
ISBN 978-616-215-126-2
European Regional Development Fund
European Regional Development Fund
Ethnic and Religious Identities and Integration in Southeast Asia
Edited by Ooi Keat Gin and Volker Grabowsky
Ethnic&Religious_cover_2017.indd All Pages 2/6/2560 BE 14:19
Transmutations of the Rohingya Movement
in the Post-2012 Rakhine State Crisis
Jacques P. Leider
One of the striking aspects of Myanmar’s recent political developments is the
dissociation of the multilateral peace process from the political management
of conflictual issues linked to the Rakhine State crisis.
The peace process
comprises the negotiations between the government of Myanmar and the
armed groups of ethnic minorities of Chin, Kachin, Shan, Karen, Kayah,
Rakhine, and Mon States. It was conceived, necessarily, as a long-term process
that should lead, through the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement,
towards the production of balanced and mutually agreed relations between
the central government and a range of political and military actors at the
country’s periphery with China, India, and Thailand. The expression
“Rakhine State crisis,” on the other hand, encapsulates a complex set
of humanitarian issues (notably questions of internal displacement and
resettlement), the contested status of citizenship of a large part of the
Muslim population, deep political mistrust that divides the Buddhist and
Muslim communities, and ongoing communal tensions that threaten peace
building.2 In Myanmar, these two sets of problems—the broader long-term
peace process negotiations and the specific crisis in Rakhine State—are
perceived by most people, more or less intuitively, as being essentially matters
of a different nature. This perception is shared by foreign observers familiar
with the country. As this chapter is only concerned with Rakhine State and
not with the peace process, the reasons of this intuitive differentiation will
not be examined here. One may note, however, that the descriptive terms in
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 191 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
the media underscore the difference in perception. While the negotiations
that should lead towards the resolution of the conflict between the state
and the ethnic armed groups are called a “peace process,” the central issue of
the Rakhine State crisis is generally referred to as the “Rohingya problem,
vaguely suggesting an entirely different type of issue.3 Comments upon
the dissimilarity of the peacemaking challenges tend to be focused on the
controversial issue of Muslim citizenship in Rakhine State, self-identification,
and the problem of statelessness. The ethno-political dimension of this legal
issue is the particularity of Rakhine State’s Muslims, who claim the distinct
ethnic identity of Rohingya but never gained recognition by the state or
the country’s ethnic groups. Others weigh in with arguments relating to
the broader issue of Buddhist-Muslim relations in the country, which have
deteriorated since , practical considerations of processing negotiations,
and fears that the Rakhine State crisis is actually an unsolvable conundrum
while the prospects of the ethnic peace process appear more likely to be
successful in the medium term.
The question of who the Rohingyas are calls for two answers, one
including the various representations of the Rohingyas about themselves and
another taking a critical historical and anthropological approach towards
formulating a communal identity of Rakhine Muslims since the late s.
Muslims from North Arakan writing in the late colonial period suggested
that the local Muslim community was made up of descendants of Arab
and Persian settlers who arrived allegedly beginning in the seventh century
CE, who mixed with indigenous people and formed a new ethnicity. More
recently, a Rohingya writer has suggested that the Rohingyas are descendants
of Aryans and associates them with the first millenium urban site of Vesali
on the Kaladan River (Abu Aaneen ). Another writer has even suggested
that they were descendants of South Indian Tamils. Historical artifacts and
written documents provide no hard evidence to bolster such claims.
The available sources point to the cultural impact of the sultanate of
Bengal in the fifteenth century and the presence of a Muslim community in
the early modern period when the kingdom of Mrauk U became a regional
power broker in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 192 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
biggest part of the Muslim community at that time were people from Bengal
deported into slavery and resettled on royal fields (Van Galen ). During
the British colonial period, Muslims and Hindus from the neighboring region
of Chittagong came to work in Arakan as agricultural laborers. Those who
settled permanently increased the number of the Muslim community to a
fifth of the total population of Arakan in the s.
In conditions that remain unclear, in the late s the old and new
communities merged, and it is on the political ambitions of their leaders in
the s, namely, the creation of a separate Muslim zone, that the Rohingya
movement built its own claims of political and cultural autonomy and
ethnic identity. The Rohingya movement itself can be defined as a political
movement whose foremost aim was the creation of an autonomous Muslim
zone. It developed a mytho-historical discourse about Rohingya origins
that minimized the cultural connections with neighboring Bengal. It stated
dogmatically that the origins of Rohingyas went back to the first millenium
and that they were a separate race. The Rohingyas not only validated the
Muslim past of Arakan, but they also challenged the prevailing Buddhist
narrative with an Islamic counter-narrative. The development of the Muslim
project and the Rohingya movement will be presented in some more detail
in the section that follows (Leider a, b).
The controversial issue of the Rohingya identity after  points to one
of many singular facets of Rakhine State in recent times. Yet, despite such
differences, the situations in Rakhine State and in other border areas of
Myanmar have a lot in common, too. They share a fundamentally political
character pertaining to state-society relations, a track record of insurgencies,
and finally inter-ethnic dimensions to the conflict they face.
Like anywhere
else in the country, the origins of government contestation and armed conflict
in Rakhine State reach back to the late colonial and early postcolonial period.
For decades Rakhine State was home to communist insurgents, Rakhine
independentist and federalist rebel organizations, and to Muslim secessionists
(Smith ).
Taking stock of the historical background, the following sections will
focus on some of the most recent developments. They will argue that the
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 193 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
Rohingya movement underwent important changes after  and that these
mutations produced a powerful new narrative of Rohingya persecution. The
triangular matrix of dissent in Rakhine State (Burmese state vs. Buddhist
Rakhine; Burmese state vs. Muslim Rohingyas; and Buddhist Rakhine vs.
Muslim Rohingyas) has been displaced after  by the interpretation of a
twofold relationship where the state is perceived as the author of a long-term
campaign of persecuting and potentially eradicating the Muslim community.
The implications of the state’s repression of the Muslims, rather than the
historical alienation of the two religious communities, have been represented
after  as the exclusive concern that the international community should
focus on.
This narrative shift bonds with the representation undertaken by human
rights activists who have been acting as caretakers of the Rohingya cause. The
activists perceive the Rakhine State crisis as a humanitarian and legal problem
to be addressed by the government, a viewpoint that has been embedded
in the international media landscape as an added, politically correct way
to approach Rakhine State issues. The last section will further argue that
the organizational and rhetorical changes that have taken place within the
international Rohingya movement are an essential factor that explains how
the local ethnic discontent and the condemnation of an oppressive regime
have been transformed into international issues. It will be suggested that the
internationalization of the Rohingya cause has been an important reason for
the imbalance tilting the discussion on the roots of the conflict towards a
pro-Rohingya narrative.
The communal violence in Rakhine State in 2012
The rape and murder of a Rakhine Buddhist woman by three Muslims
on May , , provoked a brutal reprisal a few days later in which
ten Muslims on a bus trip to Yangon were killed in southern Rakhine.5
These criminal incidents sparked large-scale violence in the townships of
Maungdaw, Buthidaung and the state’s capital Sittway, where Muslims
claiming a Rohingya identity form the majority of the population. Houses
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 194 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
were set on fire, dozens of people were killed, and over one hundred thousand
people were displaced. The majority of the people killed or displaced were
Muslims, but aggressions against Buddhist Rakhine took place as well,
similarly resulting in loss of lives and livelihood.
The government security forces were heavily criticized for their failure
to respond effectively to the outbreak of violence. Certain human rights
activists even raised the threat of genocide, pointing to the long record of
discrimination and persecution of Rohingya Muslims that they had been
documenting since the s (Cowley and Zarni ; Fortify Rights
and Lowenstein ). They also underscored that the international
community had been slow to acknowledge the core issues underlying the
crisis, namely, the denial of a Rohingya ethnic identity by the government,
the controversial official characterization of the Rohingyas as illegal migrants
from Bangladesh, and decades of arbitrary treatment of the Rohingyas by
the police and the border troops. In this context, Rakhine Buddhists were
increasingly dissatisfied about being unilaterally portrayed by the media as
racists. They argued that they defended their culture and ethnicity amidst a
Muslim population that had been growing fast due to higher fertility rates
and illegal immigration. A presidential commission was created in August
 to investigate the situation in Rakhine. Nonetheless, hate speech
proliferated in the social media and an immediate initiative was taken to
cool tempers.
In late October , the communal violence was reignited, spreading over
several more townships and resulting in more deaths and the displacement of
a further forty thousand people, once again mostly Muslims (Human Rights
Watch ). No major violence took place after, but monks from the 
Movement that toured Rakhine State fanned the flames of dissent and the
region has since been drowned in a climate of deep communal mistrust and
fear. From  to , Myanmar also witnessed a series of ethno-religious
confrontations between Buddhists and Muslims in other places. Anti-Muslim
violence struck cities in central Myanmar (Meikthila, Yangon, Bago) and
Shan State (Lashio). Mosques, shops, and houses were destroyed and many
Muslims had to flee from their homes. These events were associated with the
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 195 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
anti-Rohingya violence in Rakhine State and reinforced the international
perception of latent Islamophobia all over Myanmar. For a number of years,
Muslims from the north of Rakhine State and neighboring Bangladesh had
left the region on rickety boats to reach the south of Thailand and illegally
enter Malaysia on jungle roads. The illegal migration and human trafficking
often had disastrous consequences. With the crisis in Rakhine State, the
number of boat people who fled discrimination and poverty sharply increased
after . When Thai authorities started to investigate mass graves in early
 and tightened border patrols along the coast, the measures provoked
an even greater crisis with thousands of people abandoned on the high seas.
As a consequence, the local Rakhine crisis grew in less than two years into
a regional and international crisis that involved Myanmar’s neighbor states
and fellow ASEAN members, and pushed Muslim and Western states to
demonstrate their support for the persecuted Muslim Rohingyas (Leider
, b).
The Rohingya movement up to 2012
At the end of World War II, a small elite of educated middle-class Muslims
in Maungdaw and Buthidaung, many of whom had previously served in the
British administration and fought with the Allied troops against the Japanese,
went for a political project that should have ensured political and economic
autonomy for the predominant Muslim community in North Arakan. Those
Muslims who had migrated during the late colonial period from Chittagong
Division to Arakan knew well that many Rakhine Buddhists disliked them.
In early , the British rule collapsed following the Japanese invasion and
the tensions between Chittagonian settlers and Buddhists in Arakan had led
to two waves of killing and ethnic cleansing. Muslims were forcibly driven
out of the townships of Myebon, Minbya, and other neighboring areas while
Buddhists had to flee the northern townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw,
fleeing either north into Bengal or to southern Arakan. In the minds of
the Muslims, the  violence confirmed the belief that no political deal
could be done with the Rakhine Buddhists. However, the ambitious, yet
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 196 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
ill-conceived idea of an independent Muslim land or an integration of the
north of Arakan into Pakistan lacked political acumen and pragmatism and
was condemned to failure in . Political autonomy, on the contrary, looked
like a realistic project. However, it needed either the support of the British
authorities before independence or the Burmese government’s compliance
afterwards. Therefore the local Muslim leadership, which had joined forces
in the Jamiatul-Ulema (association of teachers) of Maungdaw, nurtured the
hope of obtaining the concession of an autonomous zone either through the
favor of the British or the understanding of the Burmese. Early attempts
failed in both  and .
The strategy of appealing to powers outside
of Arakan to promote the Muslim political project and interests (rather
than addressing the political challenge as a domestic issue) set a pattern that
became a defining mark of the later Rohingya movement.
The creation of a frontier zone or the support of a Muslim secessionist
or autonomy movement at the border with newly founded Pakistan made
no political sense for either the British or the Burmese, and both ideas were
firmly rejected. The failure to obtain the concession of political autonomy
via the status of a frontier region (in ) had a number of immediate and
serious consequences. As in many other places throughout Burma at the time,
political dissent often generated full-fledged rebellion as light weapons for
arming militants were plentiful after World War II. The Muslim revolt of the
Mujahids lasted until , but it is said to have presented no serious military
threat after . Other local Muslim leaders chose the path of parliamentary
politics and participated in the elections of  and , standing up for
Arakanese Muslim interests. When one sets these events within the larger
political context of Burma in the early s, the picture of how local leaders
pursued either political or military options to serve their ambitions appears
as fairly common. It was indeed similar to developments that took place in
the northern, southeastern, and eastern peripheral zones of the Union.
The main difference with other domestic conflicts was the relatively recent
process of political identity-building of the Muslims in North Arakan. This
process moved forward against the odds and took place under constraints and
hostile conditions. In its initial stages, it was promoted not by a nationalistic
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 197 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
mass, but by an elite with an interest in securing political power. As it was
stated above, the relatively newly formed Muslim community of Chittagonian
origins was disliked by the Arakanese Buddhists because of their earlier pro-
British stance, their outspoken territorial claims, and probably also because
of their superior ability to organize resources and mobilize support.
The Muslim minority as a whole was largely concentrated at the border
with the new country, Pakistan, whose political and cultural matrix was
Islam. Burma’s cultural matrix was Buddhism, but more than Buddhism,
it was the country’s multiethnic character and the need for communities to
fit into the multiethnic grid that determined status within a political and
ethnic hierarchy increasingly dominated by the majority Burmese after the
British had left (Taylor ). To advance their claims for political autonomy,
the Muslims of Buthidaung and Maungdaw needed to gain recognition of
a status of national belonging, namely, the recognition that they were sons
of the soil. Their de-indianization was never going to be an easy step as
the Muslim communities in Arakan were the result of successive layers of
migration extending over several hundred years, originating overwhelmingly
though not exclusively in southeastern Bengal. The majority of these people,
called Chittagonians at least until the s, had come to settle in Arakan
during the middle and late colonial period. According to the  census,
three-quarters had been born in Arakan, which might have prepared them
well for integrating into the older, yet much smaller local Muslim society
whose origins went back to the time of the former kingdom (before ).
Nonetheless, the Muslims in Arakan were never a homogeneous group.7
British census reports suggest that, at least during the early twentieth century,
members of the old precolonial Muslim community of Arakan were keen to
mark their difference from the new migrants, who were culturally akin, but
newcomers nonetheless (Grantham ).
In their census reports, the British put all people in Burma who were
linked to India by their racial origins in the category of foreign races. Thus
all the Muslims in Arakan, however long they had been living there, were
classified as belonging to a “foreign race” (kala).
To claim to be an ethnic
group historically linked to the territory and have it accepted at a national
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 198 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
level, the Muslims in North Arakan had to discard the negative connotation
of being “foreigners.” Opinions were divided on the best strategy for pursuing
the political interests of the Muslim community within the country. The
idea of adopting an ethnic name in addition to the Islamic label became
popular. Nonetheless many were content with referring to themselves as
Muslims or more precisely as Arakanese Muslims,9 while others chose to
specify their place of residence to mark internal community differences,
such as Akyab, Maungdaw, Buthidaung. Still others advocated for clearly
expressing a connection with the land Arakan, called “Rohang” in Bengali
and “Ruaingga” in their own Eastern Bengali dialect. Opinions varied on how
to spell the designated name. The Rohingya faction won against those who
preferred Ruhangya, Roewhengyas, or Rohangya, all of which were linked
to Rwangya, an obscure name used by Muslims who identified themselves
as members of the old precolonial Muslim community. The variants are old,
and the debate on how to spell them demonstrates that they were used only
orally. With the exception of “Rooinga,” which appears only once in a British
report of , none of the other terms is found in British descriptions and
administrative documents.10
After the surrender of the last Mujahids in  and during the brief
period when an autonomous Muslim zone existed, the Mayu Frontier Zone
in –, the term Rohingya flourished among the politically engaged
Rakhine Muslim community. However, it was vigorously contested by
the Rakhine nationalists who, since the s, have called for their own
autonomous state and denounced the risks of Muslim separatism. The
name Rohingya was mainly used within the narrow circle of educated and
land-owning Muslims and it did not gain widespread national recognition,
remaining unfamiliar to Burma observers and unknown to the many ethnic
groups within the country.11 Remarkably, the name Rohingya became a
default name for Rakhine Muslims after the violence of . Nonetheless,
the semantic content of the name Rohingya—its ethnic, historical, and
cultural meanings—remains a contested field. The self-perception of the
first Rohingya writers focused on the concept of local Muslim cultural
and historical specificity. Yet from the mid-s until the s, the term
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 199 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
Rohingya was mostly associated with Muslim guerrilla organizations fighting
against the Burmese government. In the early twenty-first century, the
name Rohingya hints at a narrative of disenfranchisement and persecution
in Myanmar, and for casual observers, it may suggest little more than the
notorious problem of refugees, illegal migrants, and human trafficking
evoked by dramatic pictures of people in rickety boats on the seas of the Bay
of Bengal.12
When the Mayu Frontier Zone was suppressed and integrated into the
Akyab (later Sittwe) District in , a new chapter started where the name
Rohingya survived as the name of rebel organizations along the border
with East Pakistan (and later Bangladesh). They were resolved to fight,
arms in hand, for an autonomous Muslim zone. In , the Burmese army
supported a campaign of Burmese immigration officials to check the identity
of Muslims in border townships with Bangladesh (Operation Nagamin).
The campaign triggered a massive exodus of a quarter million people into
Bangladesh. A majority were repatriated in , a move opposed by militant
Rohingyas, who took advantage of the refugee crisis to shop for arms and try
to gain military support in the Middle East. Still, the refugee crisis of 
did not generate an international reaction of support as did the violence in
. The crisis of  was triggered by the brutality of security forces, who
intervened in a mishandled immigration check by Burmese authorities. Of
the two hundred thousand Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh in the first half
of , most were repatriated by the Ne Win government with UNHCR
support between July  and December . Many refugees stayed on
in Bangladesh, many others moved to Saudi Arabia where people from the
region had settled since . Pakistan provided passports, mostly with
restricted validity. Bangladesh provided passports to migrant Rohingyas,
though it is generally accepted that many identity papers were obtained
The events that took place from the late s to the late s conditioned
two types of developments. First, individuals began to produce exclusive
narratives to describe their history and identity. This widened the ideological
gap between Muslims and Buddhists. History provided foundations for the
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 200 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
Muslim nationalism of the Rohingyas and the Buddhist nationalism of the
Rakhine. Secondly, leaders of the Muslim diaspora of Arakan became the
mainstay of the acclaimed Rohingya identity. Under the authoritarian regime
dominated by the army from  until , self-government was politically
taboo and the expression of cultural autonomy was discouraged. Security was
the primary concern of the military rulers. The state could exploit communal
dissent to keep control of the two rival communities, playing the resentment
and the fears of the Rakhine against the demographic power and the cultural
otherness of the Muslims. Still, the administrative and political failure to
integrate the Muslim community of North Arakan into the nation and to
establish efficient control over the border with Bangladesh to prevent illegal
migration demonstrate the weakness of the authoritarian state.
The citizenship law of  has been singled out by commentators as
the one moment when the Burmese state deprived Muslims in Rakhine
State of their citizenship rights, making them virtually stateless (Pugh
). Nonetheless the history of their social and political exclusion is not a
streamlined account of victimizing. Facts and interpretations diverge. Some
Rohingyas have stated that the Burmese state planned evil against their
community after , some cite evidence to prove that their situation went
from bad to worse mostly during the s due to the arbitrary policies of
the Nasaka border guards, and others have said that communal relations were
still reasonably good before the  violence, while those who believe that a
slow genocide is taking place designate  as the key date from which the
extermination began.
To make sense of the many inconsistencies that haunt contemporary
Rohingya statements on the history of their persecution, a more detailed
analysis is needed to clarify the historical record. For sure, after , the
government’s failed economic policies paved the way to poverty for all the
people living in Rakhine State. A history of oppression and exploitation
has been shared by the two communities. Consequently the history of
the Muslims in Rakhine after independence is first of all the history of a
progressive political and economic decline caused by the incompetence of
the state to establish fair and equal rule. Clumsy immigration policies and
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 201 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
restricting freedom of movement (prohibiting Muslims from officially leaving
Rakhine State) stand out. The state established a reputation as a predator,
being corrupt, inept, and untrustworthy. By increasingly denying rights to
Muslims, it superficially played to the tune of Rakhine nationalists.
The Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO), founded
in , defines itself as “one of the representative organizations of the
Rohingya people of Arakan, Burma.”13 Historically ARNO is the successor
organization of a series of militant Rohingya organizations based along the
Bangladesh-Burma border that fought the government of Burma / Myanmar
since the s.14
From the early twenty-first century onwards, the Arakan Rohingya
National Organization (ARNO) spread a relatively moderate message,
which may be interpreted as a break with its past of armed struggle fighting
for a separate Muslim zone.15 In , it stated its political objectives as
the introduction of democracy and the right of “self-determination” of
the Rohingya people, the preservation of Rohingya history and cultural
heritage, and the repatriation of Rohingya refugees from their places of
refuge. What makes ARNO traditional is its strong affirmation of historical
and cultural roots, which serve to confirm the claim that Rohingyas are an
ethnic minority of Myanmar. Since its foundation, ARNO has been making
efforts to denounce the hardship endured by Muslims in North Rakhine
State (notably the demands made by the Nasaka Border Guard Force until
) and voicing the tragedy of refugees who identify as Rohingyas in
Thailand and Malaysia. Nonetheless, the post- political context did
grant ARNO a little space for developing political projects of its own. The
organization followed a strategy of associating itself (and the cause of the
Rohingyas) with the general struggle of ethnic minorities in Myanmar and
the democracy movement. ARNO representatives met Karen and Kachin
interlocutors and joined ethnic events organized abroad. Yet, ultimately this
strategy of moderation and showing solidarity with the struggle for freedom
and self-determination in Burma did not produce any perceptible political
results for the Muslims in Rakhine State in the s. Paradoxically it was
not the democratic opposition to the military regime that made promises
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 202 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
to the Rohingyas in North Arakan but the military government that lured
the Muslim voters at the  elections to support the regime party with
promises of citizenship.
In hindsight, one can hardly criticize ARNO for this failure. It is difficult
to imagine political alternatives to the discourse of moderation that it
embraced after  and which contained increasing references to human
rights principles. Despite the political letdown, the move was significant.
The association of Rohingya issues with the broader concerns of the pro-
democracy groups that fought for regime change marked a further step in
the internationalization of the Rohingya movement. It took the Rohingya
movement in the diaspora out of its parochialism and saved it from oblivion
and irrelevance (Leider b). By showing photos of Aung San Suu Kyi
in its pre- publications, ARNO demonstrated concern for democracy
in Burma / Myanmar, though it failed early on to gain acceptance by other
ethnic parties. When one looks at the political situation in Myanmar three
years after the  communal violence, one can hardly imagine that any
Rohingya politician in the country or lobbyist in the diaspora would still
invoke Aung San Suu Kyi or the Burmese democracy movement as a beacon
of hope for their cause.
Against this background, one may wonder why so little information about
the tensions, state-society relations, and the security situation in Rakhine
State had circulated outside of the country prior to the  violence. There
is a long list of possible and interconnected answers to such a question. One
of the less obvious ones may be the tendency of the people of the region to
self-isolate and default on building relations and investing in communication
(Leider a). Many of the Buddhist Rakhine are reluctant to engage with
outsiders’ opinions and tend to persist with their often narrow perceptions
of what is Rakhine culture. As for Muslims, the Rohingya ideology has not
been conducive to a firm alliance with political groups either in Myanmar
or in Bangladesh. By claiming an ethnic identity that people in Myanmar
consider as fake and that people in Bangladesh consider as foreign, Rohingyas
have not made many friends in their neighborhood. Clearly this self-isolation
did not prevent the expression of Muslim solidarity in Bangladesh or entirely
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 203 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
deny the benefit of occasional political bonds. Still, in political terms, the
Rohingya organizations outside of Burma / Myanmar failed for decades
to obtain any substantial political gains in terms of recognition (Leider
b). Reports on the plight of the Rohingyas were the work of foreign
human rights and humanitarian organizations rather than the traditional
Rohingya movement. The  violence changed the configuration of the
conflict as well as its perception by the outside world, demonstrating the role
of communication in the making of global opinions.
Beyond the triangular conflict: Competing nationalisms and
hostile communities
At the moment of independence, the central state faced the challenge of a
Muslim separatism that morphed into a Rohingya national movement that
was not only perceived as a political threat by the state but also considered
as illegitimate by the Buddhist Rakhine. This situation conditioned the
triangular nature of the Rakhine State conflict (central state vs. Muslims
vs. Buddhists), making it substantially different from the binary geometry
of state-ethnicity relations in the rest of the country’s conflicts (government
and army vs. ethnic armed groups).
In Arakan / R a kh ine State,16 each party has been opposed to the other
two as it tries to defend and pursue its own interests. At the same time,
interests have overlapped and tactical moves have become entangled. Both
Muslims and Buddhists have been claiming increased rights and autonomous
development, perceiving the authoritarian state as a predator and oppressor.
Yet Buddhist and Muslim political actors have generally been disunited
in their opposition to the government, its ethnic policies, and its security
Postcolonial Rakhine Buddhist nationalism, for its part, can be explained
against this confusing background. It has emerged as a composite of historical
nostalgia, anti-Burmese resentment, and radical opposition to the Rohingya
Muslim project of creating a separate Muslim territory on the border with
East Pakistan (Bangladesh after ). It has been thriving on the collective
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 204 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
memory of the independent Rakhine kingdom and the Buddhist cultural
identity of the majority population. This Rakhine nationalist ideology is
part of the mainstream federalist tradition and the somewhat more marginal
independentist stance. The imagined community of Rakhine nationalists
does not provide space for Muslim identities.
The project of a separate Muslim enclave, on the other hand, was similarly
exclusive. The territorial claims were part of a political and cultural process
within the Muslim political elite that propagated a distinctive Muslim
identity. The Rohingya movement became the mature expression of a
regional form of Muslim nationalism during the s (Leider b,
The interests of politically active Muslims became thus opposed to
the ambitions of the Rakhine and to the interests of the centralizing state.
To safeguard their communal and material interests within a persistently
hostile environment, the majority of Muslims who were not drawn to rebel
generally accepted political compromises in their interactions with the state.
It was to little avail, because in the long run, the Muslims have been subjected
to a lowering of their social and political status coupled with restrictions of
movement and state harassment.
While Muslims were marginalized both socially and politically, members
of the Rakhine community did not face ethnic exclusion and became
embedded within the state’s institutions, namely, the administration and
army, on a local and national level, but not generally in Rakhine State. The
Ne Win regime promoted multiethnic harmony under a de facto Burmese
ethnic hegemony, but the ethnic subordination did nothing to reduce
Rakhine nationalism or bring about the acceptance of a rival Muslim identity.
Opposition to the claim of a separate Rohingya ethnicity was articulated in
historical and cultural terms and has thrived undiminished since the s.
It gained further strength over the years with the real or imagined fear of
uncontrolled Muslim population growth associated with arguments on illegal
migration. From  to , the government and the army successfully
prevented the outbreak of large-scale communal violence between Rakhine
Buddhists and Muslims that would have undermined the political order and
state security. Still, the record of the campaigns of Burmese security forces in
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 205 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
 and – that led each time to the temporary exodus of a quarter
million of Muslims to Bangladesh shows that the anti-Rohingya Muslim
resentment was not only tolerated but also exploited by the state.
Migrations became a defining mark of the postcolonial history of the
Muslim community. The accusation of illegal immigration, a staple argument
of Rakhine Buddhist nationalists, has been largely denied by local Muslims,
but it would warrant more detailed investigations relating to the changing
postcolonial political and economic contexts. If the argument that people
would not move from a poor country to a poorer country holds true, the
reverse case is equally valid (Dapice ). Burma is a much less densely
populated country than its neighbor East Pakistan / Bangladesh and in the
s Burma’s economy was thriving. Transregional north-south migrations
along the northeast coast of the Bay of Bengal have been a key historical factor
since the early modern period and they are part of the historical experience
of all the ethnic groups of the region. Migrations have been motivated by
economic, social, and political factors and have neither been unidirectional
nor irreversible.
Poverty, oppressive political conditions, and the lack of career
opportunities have been powerful drivers for the rural masses. The steady
flow of migration of the Muslim elite from Rakhine State to Yangon and
eventually abroad is particularly noteworthy.
One may argue that the triangularity of the domestic conflict, despite
its competing nationalisms and hostile communities, did not preclude its
inclusion into a wider peace process. Couldn’t a new deal of consensual
power-sharing between the state and ethnically diverse minorities be struck
in Rakhine State as well, paving the road towards social and economic
progress and creating a security environment where human rights standards
were going to be respected? Still, the configuration of the ethnic and political
conflicts in Rakhine State has remained radically different from other
situations in the country for more reasons than conflictual triangularity.
The crisis has been complicated by geopolitical dimensions that involve
interests and policies of the states of Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar.
Until  the border region was virtually unknown to most people in
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 206 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
the world.18 It looked as if news reports brought to light a hidden drama
of ugly Buddhists persecuting helpless Muslims, oversimplifying the puzzle
of communal tensions, historical frictions, institutional oppression, and
demographic pressure. This narrative conditioned an international outcry
about the humanitarian disaster and the disenfranchisement of the Muslims
in the northern districts of Rakhine State. Still the calls for justice did not
address the underlying complications of violence, social angst, and resentment
that had prevailed for decades.
Both communities, with opposing political interests, have suffered
from the experience of being treated unfairly by the state for decades. The
Rohingya Muslims in North Rakhine State have denounced the fact that
they have been increasingly excluded from the national community despite
their claims of historical roots and loyalty to the state. The Rakhine have
traditionally looked at the Burmese as the conquerors of their ancient
kingdom and condemned the policy of Burmanization that aimed at
culturally aligning the Rakhine with the majority culture.
The reaction of the international community was largely a response to
the events of  where the Muslim community throughout the whole
state (including those like the Kamans who had been recognized since
independence as full citizens) suffered enormously from the destruction
of houses and forced displacement.
The discussion of the emerging state
crisis focused exclusively on the humanitarian issues and the offending
state policies, and it passed by many of the critical questions relating to the
origins of the dissent that had broader political implications: migrations,
rival political and economic interests, competing legitimacies, poverty, and
irremediable suffering due to past injustice and violence. From the point of
view of the government and the local Rakhine Buddhist community, the
discussion appropriated by the international community was distorted. In the
end, the debate about the Rakhine State crisis was no longer a matter of solving
the problems and negotiating peace among domestic actors, because the terms
and definitions of the conflict discourse went largely out of their control.20
Insufficient attention was indeed paid to the fact that the debate on
the conflict and the conflict itself were not merely a national issue. Since
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 207 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
, the debate has been taken up unequally between a national pro-
Rakhine Buddhist consensus in the country and an international block of
pro-Rohingya voices. Neither side has held a uniform stance, yet broadly
speaking, national interests, cultural sensitivities, and their truths have been
pitted against international viewpoints, principles, and other truths. As a
consequence, the high ground of interpretations has emerged as a field of
confrontation within the ethnohistorical conflict and it has been dominated
by the ethically referenced voices from abroad. Moreover, confrontational
discussions and divergent interpretations have also demonstrated how
perceptions (rather than certainties) can overrule facts and how beliefs can
take the lead over political reason.
Nonetheless, the political management of Rakhine State did not slip
from the iron fist of the government and input from the international
community remained limited. Government administration and the security
establishment have contested international interpretations of the conflict,
but they have made regrettably few efforts to explain their policies after
. Rakhine Buddhists have criticized the international support for the
Rohingyas as well. They were however ineffective in articulating moderate
viewpoints and suggestions for solutions compatible with international
standards. In , a rhetoric of denial and a pervasive anti-Rohingya
resentment displayed by hard-core Rakhine nationalists produced a negative
image of the community as a whole.
The national conversation on political reforms and the need for policies
based on equality and fairness have ultimately had little impact on the way
that the government and Rakhine civil society have approached the situation
in Rakhine State. Strikingly, the Rakhine have rarely defended their political
positions with reference to international legal standards the way that pro-
Rohingya campaigners have emphasized the implementation of human
The rapid transformation of the local conflict (that had remained shut
off from the attention of the world for decades) into a global cause (that was
represented emphatically as a threat to the country’s future) propelled one
of the most neglected and isolated regions of Myanmar into the limelight of
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 208 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
global attention. As the Muslim Rohingyas became better prepared, thanks
to the existing networks of their international diaspora, they could seize
the new opportunities of global attention to present their victimhood in an
international space dominated by international organizations, international
nongovernmental organizations, and a web of diplomats and leaders with
regional and transregional briefs.
Post-2012: New Wave Rohingya
One could call the Rohingya movement before  “traditional” to
distinguish it from the important changes that it underwent since .
The expression “New Wave Rohingya” is used here to designate the recent
developments within the international Rohingya network and to outline
transformations that took place after . Significant changes have included
() the expansion of Rohingya associations and their activities in the Western
diaspora, () the shift of the Rohingya rhetoric from historical and cultural
coordinates to themes of Muslim victimization and solidarity, and () the
spreading out of a Rohingya narrative structured by humanitarian and legal
perspectives. New Wave Rohingya is an expanded worldwide Rohingya
mobilization that has increasingly made use of the potential of global
campaigning. The organizational growth that followed the international
expressions of sympathy for the victims of the  violence went hand in
hand with the use of social media and the creation of websites that draw
on portrayals of the situation of Muslims in Rakhine State.21 Si nce,
the mobilization for pro-Rohingya campaigns has been dominated by the
Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU), associated groups such as Burma Task
Force, and more recently by the European Rohingya Council (ERC). These
organizations are networking with sympathetic Muslim states and Islamic
organizations, lobbying the EU and Western governments, and keeping alive
the global awareness of Rohingya Muslim concerns. Since , they have
had an impact on the international perception of the Rakhine State crisis
as well as on the discussion of Rohingya issues in the Western context, in
the international Muslim context, and in a specifically regional ASEAN
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 209 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
context.22 The post- mutations within the international Rohingya
diaspora have transformed the international issue of Rohingya refugees,
debated since the s, into a globalized concern for Muslim victimhood.
ARU is an umbrella organization of Rohingya associations founded in
Jeddah in .
Thanks to its media presence and international links, the
ARU and people associated with its leadership have overshadowed the role
of ARNO, the organization described above as the main representative of
the traditional, historical Rohingya movement.
The ARU was the outcome of a series of consultation meetings of
Rohingya groups that took place in Bangkok, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia
in , , and . The signing of the ARU charter raised great hopes
among Rohingya militants.24 In , an international workshop on the
pre-independence history of Arakan organized by the Institute of Asian
Studies of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok illustrated the huge divide
between Rakhine Buddhist nationalists and Rohingya militants.
It also
demonstrated the organizational disunity of the Rohingya militants. The
scholarly part of the  Bangkok workshop was followed by a “roundtable
history discussion” where “issues of common concern” and a “strategy to
resolve differences” were raised. Still, the conference failed to promote any
kind of shared conversation that was able to engage participants in a political
dialogue. Nonetheless, the Bangkok event marked the beginning of exertions
led by Harn Yawnghwe, head of the Euro-Burma office (EBO) in Brussels, to
bring rival Rohingya organizations together under a common program and
Harn’s efforts were subsequently supported by the Organization
of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The ARU charter signed by twenty-five Rohingya organizations at the
OIC headquarters may have appeared to some as a déjà-vu, because there
had been earlier attempts to unify the Rohingya movement.
Such attempts
had failed because of factionalism and competition among leaders. It seems
that the creation of ARU was not an exception, and news about internal
dissent circulated two years later on the web.28 Yet the foundation of
ARU has been historically important. It took place less than a year before
the outbreak of the  violence. Therefore it provided the Rohingya
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 210 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
movement with a mouthpiece to voice its grievances at an international level
at the right moment, more efficiently and firmly than ever before. Unlike
earlier federations of Rohingya organizations, ARU has enjoyed a strong
OIC backing. Run out of the U.S., it soon gained prominent access to
international organizations based in New York as well as political institutions
in Washington.29 Back in , Wakar Uddin, an American professor of
plant pathology who hails from a Maungdaw clan, had been elected as
a candidate of compromise to head ARU. He was a new face within the
Rohingya movement, unblemished by political gaming. He proved himself
able to engage in numerous presentations on the tragic events of  to both
Western and Asian audiences while lobbying for Rohingya interests. As he
became the recipient of Middle East funding, he could actively support the
activities of new and traditional Rohingya organizations.
The institutional support of the OIC and the availability of funds from
institutions and governments in the Middle East provided support that
made a clear difference in the situation that the Rohingya movement in
the diaspora had faced up until . However, the creation of the ARU
neither displaced ARNO nor eliminated other older and more traditional
Besides ARU, the most recent political activism of the Rohingya diaspora
organizations is found in northern and northwestern Europe, particularly
in the U.K. and in Scandinavia. A European Rohingya Council (ERC)
was created on October , , in Denmark and registered as a nonprofit
organization in the Netherlands (December , ).30 ERC’s goa ls
also reflect the dynamics of New Wave Rohingya and its activities have
gained traction thanks to the prominent role of Tun Khin, the head of the
Burmese Rohingya Union of United Kingdom (BROUK) and Mohamed
Ibrahim in Germany. Greater unity to gain support for pro-Rohingya
agendas and influence Western policies has been a welcome development
for the wider Rohingya movement. Yet while the ERC wants to position
itself as an organization dedicated to humanitarian issues, it still faces the
typical challenge of creating a sense of togetherness and cooperation among
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 211 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
Rohingyas for the longer term. Recent efforts to cooperate are not novel and
may be insufficient to sustain a lasting transnational initiative.31
To put it briefly, the Rohingya diaspora was able to mobilize itself at
a critical juncture, connect to international organizations, and keep the
Rohingya issue alive for Western powers engaging with the Myanmar
government. International and national human rights bodies documenting
the dismal living conditions in the IDP camps in Rakhine State supported
public calls for the recognition of the Rohingyas as an ethnic group of
Myanmar. These campaigns resonated in a global idiom that was well
understood and largely accepted by mainstream public opinion around the
world. The Rohingya cause also took advantage of the international muteness
on Rakhine Buddhist viewpoints and the Myanmar government’s lack of a
communication strategy on Rakhine State crisis issues.
An impressive number of humanitarian and human rights’ organizations
have made reports on the Rohingyas since the s, and many more after
. The aims and methods of these organizations vary. Some focus on
raising public attention through the media, giving vocal support to the people
they define as the victims, while others prefer institutional advocacy and take
a more balanced approach. A few examples may illustrate the marked presence
of their viewpoints in the wider context of the Rakhine State crisis. Human
Rights Watch has issued occasional reports since the s (for example, see
Human Rights Watch , , ), clearly aiming at a strong media
impact. The Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN) based
in Bangkok and best known for the harsh rhetoric of its monthly reports
has produced detailed accounts of human rights violations against Muslims
in Rakhine State. Other reports include the  Arakan Report of the
Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, a
Turkish NGO (Insani Yardim Vakfi ), the Ash Center for Democratic
Governance and Innovation’s report of  (Dapice ), or the 
report of the Asian Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR ).
Physicians for Human Rights () has been following the situation for
several years, while Fortify Rights is an NGO that has specialized in the
Rohingyas since its foundation in . Still, these are just a few examples
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 212 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
of human rights organizations that have produced reports over the last few
years. Ideologically, they may differ considerably. While organizations like
Fortify Rights or ALTSEAN pursue their agendas with strongly formulated
language, others such as Arakan Project, founded in , invest in long-
term advocacy and prepare research papers that inform UN human rights
mechanisms. Most organizations focus on humanitarian and human rights
issues in Rakhine State itself, but rarely include the difficult situation of the
hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas in neighboring Bangladesh. For reasons
of confidentiality, the organizations do not reveal their field sources so that
their actual connections with Rohingya organizations remain unknown.
Therefore it is difficult to assess what segments of the wider Rohingya
community—beyond the Muslim population in certain parts of Rakhine—
find their own perceptions and interests represented in these reports.
The Rohingya organizations themselves have increasingly oriented their
struggle towards a human rights–focused agenda. The traditional Rohingya
movement looks back at a checkered history of factionalism, armed struggle,
and shadowy connections with Islamist organizations in South Asia. Its
flagship since , Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO)
polished its image after , largely replacing a militant separatist agenda
by claims that made direct references to the implementation of human rights.
This strategic choice has also driven New Wave Rohingya outfits since their
foundation. ARU, ERC, and associated groups have positioned themselves
with politically correct and lean mission statements campaigning for justice
and human rights, staying in line with international standards.
The mission statements of ARU and ERC overlap at many points in calling
for the recognition of Rohingya ethnicity, the restoration of citizenship, and
the arrest of those responsible for acts of anti-Muslim violence in . Yet
ERC’s stronger link to ARNO is visible in its references to history and show
of political pragmatism. ERC, unlike ARU, includes in its objectives the need
to live “side by side in harmony with other ethnic groups” and to search for
“permanent political and social solutions.32
In the U.S., pro-Rohingya activists have been moving away from the
traditional type of purely Rohingya or national organizations towards the
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 213 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
building of campaign coalitions doing Muslim political advocacy. Wakar
Uddin’s home organization, the Burmese Rohingya Association of North
America (BRANA), has been showcasing the international presence of its
leader, but BRANA has apparently not been used as a campaign vehicle in
itself. BRANA is part of Burma Task Force (BTF), a coalition of Muslim
organizations created in  at the initiative of Justice for All, a Muslim
Illinois-based NGO.
The creation of Burma Task Force marked a further
step in the internationalization of Rohingya concerns, but the contours of
BTF’s identity remain blurred. Its website,, does
not contain general information on the situation of the different Muslim
communities in Myanmar, but focuses exclusively on a pro-Rohingya agenda.
On the other hand, the headline of “Burma Task Force-Donation” starts
with the phrase “Burma Task Force is a united effort of American Muslims.”
The creation of Burma Task Force demonstrates not only a new form
of pro-Rohingya campaigning that builds on a wider and more dynamic
mobilization of Muslim resources. It also marks a significant shift in rhetoric
and ideology. In its mission statement, the BTF reduces the complex problems
of the Rakhine State crisis to an exclusively Rohingya issue defined by its
legal and humanitarian aspects. The historical background, the religious and
cultural specificity, the geopolitical context, the socioeconomic framework,
and last but not least, the existence of other ethnic communities in Rakhine
State are neither presented nor explained. Accordingly, the goals of BTF
separate the interests of the minority group (the Muslims) from the existential
presence of the majority group (the Buddhists) while both claim and share the
same territory. Regional political connections, such as border relations with
Bangladesh and political and economic experiences shared in the past are
absent and stifle critical reflection on the background situation in Rakhine
State. Therefore BTF’s mission statement hardly encourages the search for
durable political solutions.
Ignoring the claims of the other community is a habit rooted in both
communities. Buddhist Rakhine and Rohingya history writers have generally
tried to deny the key historical claims of the other community. Buddhists are
reluctant to acknowledge the role of Muslims in the old Buddhist kingdom,
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 214 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
while Rohingya Muslims have disconcertingly interpreted the history of
the Buddhist kingdom as the history of a Muslim sultanate (Leider a).
Nonetheless the political rhetoric of the traditional Rohingya movement
has generally referred to the “two sister communities”; it has stressed the
patriotism and loyalty of the Muslims and embraced visions of cohabitation
with their “Rakhine brothers and sisters.34 For decades the postcolonial
Muslim identity process in North Arakan has not depended on South Asian
but on local models, the Rakhine Buddhist model of an independent history
previous to the Burmese and British rules and the Myanmar matrix of ethnic
requirements to obtain political legitimacy.
Remarkably, the rhetoric of New Wave Rohingya has been doing away
with the existence of the Rakhine as a factor to be included in the political
equation. It not only drops the issue of contesting historical claims dear to
the postwar generation Muslims who founded the Rohingya movement.
ARU / BTF and also ERC statements first of all address an international
audience with messages that focus their attention on the plight of a certain
group of Muslims in Myanmar. Their ultimate target is the government
of Myanmar and its practices of discrimination, not the ethno-religious
intolerance of the Rakhine Buddhists, who remain an unnamed community.
Even ERC’s promotion of dialogue points to interfaith activities rather than
a political dialogue. Its criticism of Buddhist nationalists (in particular the
 Movement) does not mention the Rakhine Buddhists.
In the aftermath of World War II, politically ambitious Muslims of North
Arakan had first of all been fighting for the creation of an autonomous
Muslim zone. The foundational thinkers of the Rohingya movement
that evolved throughout the s solidified this project with the claim
of a distinctive, historical, Rohingya ethnic identity built on the pillars of
myth, history, territory, and Muslim culture. In practical terms, this meant
the acceptance of the amalgamation of Muslims from the past with the
later inflows of Chittagonian Muslims during the colonial period. The
suppression of the Mayu Frontier Zone left the Rohingya movement with
the bitter political experience of losing the privilege of an autonomy that
the Rakhine Buddhists were unable to obtain from the U Nu government
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 215 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
in . At the same time, the political loss did not dispel the pride of the
Muslims at having been able to make their ethnic claim and assert an identity
that drew on prestigious episodes of local Islamic history.
New Wave Rohingya, on the contrary, does not boast such historical
credentials. It has encouraged international solidarity by forging a Rohingya
identity that has become mainly defined by victimhood. Like the Acehnese
studied by Anthony Reid, the Rohingyas represent an Islamic idiom of
“outrage at state humiliation” nationalism (Reid , ). The plight of the
Rohingyas has also been presented as a distinctive Muslim cause, appealing
to the compassion of co-religionists, a worldwide sense of justice, and the
solidarity of a global audience. It is the narrative of human rights taking
the place of historical narratives. Consequently, New Wave Rohingya has
facilitated the participation and solidarity of those who might have remained
unmoved by convoluted historical arguments. At the same time, the gap
between the national (Myanmar) and the international (global) spaces of
expression and reflection has widened. Muslims trying to stand up for the
Rohingya claims inside the country were deprived of openly addressing a
Myanmar national audience. Unlike the Rakhine Buddhists, they have not
enjoyed the trust or solidarity of Myanmar’s ethnically diverse citizenry.35
In , a global public of world leaders and academics internalized the
image of victimized Rohingya Muslim masses, not an image of an obscure
separatist movement with a militant past and a dubious political record.
Rakhine Buddhist positions were understandably considered to be insensitive
and aggressive but, unfortunately, as irrelevant as well. Myanmar government
statements were discarded as untrustworthy or unacceptable.
Genocide narratives
The international interpretations of past and present policies of the
Myanmar state towards the Muslims in Rakhine State became even harsher
after the outburst of anti-Muslim resentment in several Myanmar cities in
 and the vote of the restrictive legislation on marriage and religious
conversion in . One of the most forceful accusations made against the
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 216 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
government of Myanmar has been the allegation of genocide. Investigations
were launched and conferences were convened from  to  to push
for acknowledgment of the genocide narrative. Nonetheless international
opinions have remained split on such a characterization of the historical
In fact, the genocide charge has been part of the rhetorical Rohingya
repertoire since the movement’s origins. The allegation that the Burmese
government was trying to commit genocide against the Rohingya did not
begin in , as some would have it. More than twenty-five years earlier,
the charter of the Arakan Muslim Conference () began with the call,
“Stop genocide of the Muslims who alone stand in between ‘Communism
and ‘Democracy’ in Arakan.” The June  charter did not elaborate the
genocide charge and the term may have been used as a hint to the conflict
that opposed government troops and local Muslim rebels since . In ,
following the flight of an estimated two hundred thousand Muslims from
Arakan to Bangladesh, the rebels of the Rohingya Patriotic Front raised
the accusation of genocide as well, but at that time, it did not become the
object of an international inquiry as the majority of people who had fled were
repatriated up to December . A number of non-Rohingya activists and
scholars who have lately embraced Rohingya advocacy have tried to build a
new set of arguments to bolster the claim of premeditated genocide (Cowley
and Zarni ). Maung Zarni, a veteran Burmese anti-government activist
and self-declared pro-Rohingya fighter has been instrumental in organizing
a series of high-profile events where he specifically advocated for the
description of Myanmar government policies in Rakhine State as a form of
“slow genocide.”36 Penny Green, the director of the International State Crime
Initiative at Queen Mary University in London, and her collaborators have
characterized the conditions of persecution of the Rohingyas as “genocidal
practice” despite the absence of mass killings (State Crime ).37 Fortify
Rights () tasked the Allard K. Lowenstein International Rights Clinic
of Yale Law School to publish a legal analysis that supports the genocide
claim as well. Rohingya organizations and websites have widely quoted
the genocide (also often called ethnocide) allegation sanctioned by legal
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 217 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
specialists. Burma Task Force states as its first goal “to stop the genocide of
the Rohingya Muslim minority group.
While the genocide charge was not
very prominent in the  declarations and statements, it became an integral
part of the pro-Rohingya discourse in . The accusation of genocide hits
hard at the credibility of a state. It resounds loudly because many members
of the global community have a clear perception of genocide in mind, be it
in Nazi Germany, in Armenia, in Cambodia, in Rwanda, or in Srebrenica.
In conclusion, thanks to the dynamics of New Wave Rohingya, the
original Rohingya project of sociocultural and political autonomy has
been successfully repackaged as a leaner humanitarian but more abstract
and global cause. This mutation of the movement, the transformation of
its organizational networks, and the adoption of an exclusively ethics and
rights-based narrative, has important implications for the contextualization
of the crisis itself. The final section will summarize some of the above points
and include some political comments.
Internationalization and the ownership of the conflict
The post- developments within the Rohingya movement
represent a further step in internationalizing the Rohingya cause. This
internationalization has many aspects. One of them is the strategy of the
Rohingya movement to advance its political and social interests by obtaining
the support of foreign governments and international organizations and
institutions. The changes summarized in this chapter using the moniker
New Wave Rohingya confirm this strategy as a historical trend. The
traditional Rohingya organizations had been only moderately successful
in bringing their cause to the attention of a wider global audience. The
creation of ARU and ERC represents more powerful dynamics that have
taken advantage of the widespread international interest in Myanmar.
Indeed the internationalization of the humanitarian cause of the Rohingyas
has solidified opposing opinions on the Rakhine State Crisis.40 After
, the international approach to the conflict has prioritized the “plight
of the Rohingyas” as the central concern. The media emphasized the
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 218 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
humanitarian disaster, while the human rights organizations described the
disenfranchisement of the Muslim community and ongoing state oppression
as root causes of the violence.
We have seen that the Rakhine State dissensions were not included in
the ethnic peace process in Myanmar. I pointed out the differences between
the perception and the reality of the various conflictual situations. The
Rakhine State crisis pitted a national pro-Rakhine Buddhist desire for action
against internationally supported pro-Rohingya positions.41 What does this
disjunction of narratives and the changes in the modes of articulating the
Rakhine State crisis mean for the region’s political prospects?
Earlier I sketched the violent events that took place in Rakhine State
and central Myanmar between  and  that were perceived as
symptomatic of a strong anti-Muslim xenophobia and extremist tendencies
by a Buddhist nationalist fringe. The dramatic scenes from May  of
boats packed with starved people drifting on the high seas have taught the
lesson of regional cooperation. Narrow national approaches are insufficient
to control the irregular maritime migration in the Bay of Bengal. There
is a very real hope that the underlying social and economic problems in
Myanmar will be faced in a more energetic and principled way by the new
administration that takes over in , but it may be short lived. In ,
the prospects were not entirely encouraging despite strenuous efforts by the
United Nations and a considerably improved understanding of the conflict
by international institutions and government observers. One may wonder
if the globalization of the Rakhine State conundrum and the plight of the
Rohingyas is to be welcomed as a positive development. Viewed from the
perspective of the Rohingyas, it certainly is. The Rohingya organizations
received declarations of support from sympathetic Western and Middle East
countries. Since the end of , their account of Muslim victimhood in
Myanmar established itself internationally as the politically correct narrative
avoiding the complexity of Muslim diversity and the frustrations of the
Rakhine Buddhists. The name Rohingya has been propelled to a level of
popularity and acceptance formerly unknown. Simultaneously, the official
administrative appellation of “Bengalis” that had raised no one’s protest for
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 219 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
three decades, was discredited internationally. Never before in history did
so many Muslims from Rakhine State claim the appellation Rohingya. The
strong support of OIC and a number of Middle East countries for the ARU
was surprising after decades of lukewarm backing of the Rohingya militants.
Muslims in the Middle East have responded with enthusiasm to the calls
for financial help for the Rohingya Muslims. The international wave of
sympathy has thus indisputably benefited the worldwide Rohingya network
and by extension their social and political cause.
However, the internationalization has not opened new ground in the
domestic political arena where both Muslims and Buddhists have been
silently longing for peace. The political prospects are dimmed by the domestic
perception of this internationalization. It confirms some of the fears aired by
Buddhists, namely, the alleged threat of an international Muslim alliance.
There may be few grounds for such worries, and Westerners have generally
been in a rush to discard them wholesale. Nonetheless, speculations about the
total number of Muslims in the country have often been used to vent anti-
Muslim sentiment or denounce the hypocrisy of the state for its supposed
tolerance of non-Buddhist religions.
Myanmar is home to several Muslim communities of various ethnic
backgrounds, each having their own religious and cultural network. The
estimated percentage of Muslims has varied between four and seven. Muslims
of Indian origin (broadly, but often pejoratively referred to as Kala) are
divided along linguistic groups and found in urban centers all over the
country. The Panthay of Mandalay are of Chinese origin going back to the
eighteenth century. The Burmese Muslims (called Zerbadis before )
trace their origin back to the early modern period and only their religious
practice and beliefs differentiate them from the Buddhist Burmans. A
process of reidentifying as “Pathi” has emerged in recent years as the Burmese
Muslims try to reclaim the unity as well as the antiquity of their community
by using a term for Muslims found in the royal chronicles. The Muslims
in Rakhine State who identify as Rohingyas have been the biggest Muslim
minority in Myanmar since the late nineteenth century (Selth ). Their
efforts to set themselves ethnically apart from other Muslims of Indian origin
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 220 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
and their strategy to gain the support of non-nationals for their cause has
deprived them of national allies and left the community in a worse situation
than other Muslims.
The mission statements of ERC and ARU are addressed to an
international audience and based on the assumption that international
pressure on the government of Myanmar will ultimately lead to a decisive
change of policies towards the Muslims, namely, recognizing their ethnicity,
restoring or giving them full citizenship, and providing them with economic
and social benefits. The Rohingyas want to be rescued by the international
community. Bearing in mind the failure of the policy of sanctions against
Myanmar and the general move of the international partner countries to
eliminate sanctions after , the suggestion to renew pressure policies
displays a lack of political realism.42 Similar approaches seem even more
unrealistic in the post-election context of November , where the political
game in Myanmar has been changed by the NLD winners. The unspecified
stance that underlies the international Rohingya discourse is the assumption
that the conflictual ecosystem can be unpackaged outside of the space of
communal interaction. By doing away with the traditional ethnocultural
configuration rooted in territorial claims and interpretations of the historical
master record, New Wave Rohingya has escaped the need for a dialogue on
coexistence, shared issues, and the roots of ethnic identity that are at the
heart of the conflict.43 When both history and historical contextualization
are emptied of their social relevance, they become moot. This simple truth
challenges not only the government authorities and administration, but
also the responsibility and the capacity for political vision of Buddhist and
Muslim leaders, whatever their geographical location. According to the 
census, the total population of Rakhine State was ,, (Ministry of
Immigration and Population , ). As Muslims were not allowed to
identify as Rohingyas, they were not enumerated. The number of the “not
enumerated” was estimated at ,, people. The two million Buddhists
and over a million Muslims will ultimately have to find ways to live together.
The recent interpretations of the Rakhine State crisis have not disallowed
the representation of the conflict in triangular terms (the state, Buddhists,
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 221 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
Muslims). But the triangularity sketches the Rakhine State crisis as an
essentially domestic issue and this description is nowadays insufficient for
understanding the stakes of the Rakhine State crisis in the post- context.
The role of other, mostly international, actors has already been sufficiently
underscored: the indirect role played by the international Rohingya network;
the prioritization of humanitarian and human rights agendas by international
partner countries of Myanmar and international organizations; and the
impact of the voices in public and social media on the minds of the people
in shaping their opinions. Since , Myanmar’s traditional short-term
approach of developing ad hoc policies to ensure the state’s security priorities
has not worked anymore. The international community has urgently called
for more principled and comprehensive government approaches to deal with
the humanitarian and legal issues. Moreover, bilateral issues, notably the
movement of people between Bangladesh and Myanmar and beyond, have
become weighty regional problems, including illegal migration and human
trafficking, which involve Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other countries
where the presence of Rohingya refugees has raised domestic political
challenges. Among international actors within the country who have had a
better grasp of the complexity of the Rakhine State crisis during the years that
followed the  violence, a tacit consensus has prevailed that patient steps
towards decreasing the tensions by socioeconomic initiatives and political
trust-building could be more useful than sharpening the rhetoric. It is not
difficult to dismiss such soft approaches with reference to events that entered
the political chronicle in : the suppression of the white (identity) cards
and their replacement by a type of temporary (identity) card, the continuing
existence of the IDP camps, urban segregation, the alleged bullying of people
to accept the appellation “Bengali,” the disenfranchisement of Muslims in
general, and the exclusion of their political representatives from the electoral
process as well as the shunning of Muslims by the political opposition,
notably the NLD, a party that had been a beacon of hope for a long time.
The informal yet influential domestic anti-Rohingya front staffed by
radical Rakhine Buddhists, government authorities, and a militant anti-
Muslim fringe of the monkhood has demonstrated again and again that
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 222 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
it was not open to compromise, blocking by their protests tolerant and
more open-minded approaches. Rakhine Buddhists have expressed their
social and economic worries to international actors, but their fears have not
attracted international support. Within the global discussion, the tendency
of the Rakhine community to self-isolate along with the radicalization
of opinions in Myanmar have created a perception of the Rakhine as an
irresponsible and politically immature party in the midst of the conflictual
ecosystem. In conclusion, can one criticize the Muslims for ignoring the
Rakhine Buddhists? And vice versa, given the habit of ignoring each other
quasi-methodically, can one blame the Rakhine Buddhists, inhabitants of
the second poorest state of the union, for focusing their attention on their
own interests? The answer is that self-centeredness may have been sitting well
in the trend to self-isolate during the pre- period, but it is no longer a
politically sensitive response in the more open space of debate and discursive
confrontation that Myanmar has faced since .44
Myanmar has sorely lacked public intellectuals to inspire and charismatic
political leaders and monks who meld their traditional moral messages with a
critical and tolerant look at contemporary political challenges. International
observers have relentlessly denounced the lack of respect for human rights in
the country and advocated for human rights as a quasi-condition for further
political progress. Such an approach is morally sound, but one may wonder
if it is politically wise. In the history of Western countries, the practice of
human rights has been the endpoint of a long historical development. In
Myanmar as well, the practice of human rights will depend on an extended
learning process within the institutions where actors need to unlearn bad
habits of abusing power. Political change will have to go hand in hand
with the multi-tiered acquisition of a human rights perspective. These
political changes have generally been described as a necessary process of
democratization, having elections, and alternating power-holders at the
center. However, more importantly, the country will have to modernize its
political institutions by moving from a leader-focused hierarchical model to a
political and social order built on trust, the balancing of economic interests,
and a fairer sharing of power at the regional level.
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 223 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
After , the Rakhine political class did not prioritize the popular
dissent with the Muslim population as its foremost issue. The Arakan
National Party, founded in , emerged from the fusion of the Rakhine
National Development Party (which competed in the  elections) and
the Arakan League for Democracy ( elections). Since  the Rakhine
leaders have been exploring the new political space in the country. Economic,
social, educational, and political issues of their own group have been central
concerns of Rakhine civil society. They have tended to shut out of their
political consciousness the issue of future coexistence with the Muslims in the
same way that the Rohingya diaspora have passed over in silence the existence
of the Rakhine. It is also this lack of political vision that has consolidated the
management of Rakhine State by the central government and the security
forces. The ANPs good showing in the November , , elections will
certainly open a new chapter in the post-independence saga of failed relations
between Buddhists and Muslims and their discontent with the central state.
Descriptions of the Rohingya issue and the Rakhine State crisis rarely display
a comprehensive picture of the situation, with its multi-layered political
background.45 Prior to the  elections, promises had been made by the
government to the Muslims in North Arakan that they would eventually be
granted citizenship. The events of  and the rapidly polarizing positions
on the Rohingya Muslim identity within the country wipes out such promises
if ever they were meant seriously. The lesson to be learned from this episode,
as from the recent changes in the international Rohingya network, is the
irreducible ambivalence and dead ends entailed by simplifying the ins and
outs of seven decades of post-independence history. What Myanmar needs is
less ethnicized politics and more bottom-up integrative approaches towards
the multiethnic complexity of the country (Taylor ). The political class in
Myanmar and in Rakhine State has to understand that segregation extracts
a higher economic price and generates neither social capital nor peace.
Yet this is not the only challenge for social integration. A better record of
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 224 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
the authorities on human rights will not by itself ensure that the Muslim
community in Rakhine State finds its place within the country and that the
historical bitterness is overcome.
A political dialogue that will pave the way towards a peace process in
Rakhine State is certainly possible, but it will need a tolerant yet fluid, a
broader yet more accurate approach towards the historical experience
of the people who are living in Rakhine State today. At present, neither
the temptation of the Rakhine to focus solely on their own needs and
expectations, nor the self-gratification of gaining international support for
the Rohingya cause, are conducive to encompassing political visions. It often
looks as if the actors in the Rakhine State crisis prefer to feel right about
their own cause rather than exploring a broad-based political realism. This
situation has created the impression that the Rakhine State crisis cannot be
solved. Political interests remain embroiled with moral judgments and both
actors and observers are entrapped in a rivalry of subjectivities.
The international community, for its part, is well advised to step back
from entrenching itself in moral superiority and avoid being perceived as
taking sides. Still, however strong the support from inside or outside is and
however valid its credentials and aims, it seems extremely unlikely that one
single community will be able to pursue a path of progress and development
unless it provides space for the other community and their hopes for a better
future. Integration needs, realistically, commitment from both sides. One
of the important lessons of the peace process in Myanmar is the learning
process among ethnic armed groups as they faced the government negotiators
with a common voice. Similarly Rakhine State will only move towards peace
when the main actors in the country have the courage to envision together
a common future.
. The terms “Myanmar” and “Rakhine” are used in this chapter to refer
to the contemporary Union of Myanmar and Rakhine State, as they have been
officially called since . The name “Burma” is still widely used to refer to the
country in historical contexts. Similarly “Arakan” and “Arakanese” are terms
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 225 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
that refer to the geographical and historical shape of the former kingdom, the
colonial province, and the union state, as well as to its majority people up to
. The terms will be used according to the chronological context.
. The violent events of June and October  in Rakhine State that led
to over two hundred dead and the internal displacement of tens of thousands
of people were triggered by racist propaganda and long suppressed resentment.
The role of agent provocateurs remains as yet unclear. The violence took place
in a conflictual context of state discrimination, poverty, social angst, communal
tensions between Buddhists and Muslims, and unresolved political and legal
problems that go back to the colonial period and the late s. Nonetheless the
humanitarian problems created by the  violence, notably the huge number
of people that were relocated in camps, the de facto segregation of people in
urban and rural environments, the sudden international interest in the situation
of Muslims in Rakhine State, and the strong pressure on the government of
Myanmar to amend the situation according to international principles have
produced new challenges and an entirely new situation for all the actors.
. In “Counter-Narratives on the Rohingya issue,” Nasir Uddin pointedly
writes, “the premise whether “Rohingya” is a problem, and if so for whom, should
be resolved first before any further discussion. In fact, the notion of “problem
itself is problematic since it involves multi-typed interests of multi-layered
stakeholders concerned” (Uddin , ).
. The wish of Muslims to participate in the political process has been
repeatedly underscored by the Rohingya organizations. Most recently the
declaration of the Second European Rohingya Conference (Esbjerg, August –,
) has stated: “The conference reiterated that . . . political and democratic
process in Burma should be all-inclusive and Rohingya must be a part of it.” See
“Declaration of the Second European Rohingya Conference” ().
. This paragraph draws on Leider (b, –).
. “Representation by the Muslims of North Arakan Claiming for an
Autonomous State in the Buthidaung and Maungdaw Areas,  February
.” (Government of Burma Home Department ). http://www./Representations--rev.pdf;
Address Presented by Jamiat Ul Ulema North Arakan on Behalf of the People
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 226 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
of North Arakan to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Union of Burma on the
Occasion of His Visit to Maungdaw on the th October .” Government
of the Union of Burma, Foreign Office, , accessible at http://www./J-U--October-.pdf.
. The idea of a historically homogeneous Muslim community is a
twentieth-century retroprojection that obfuscates the actual historical record. It
is essentially an ideological claim necessary to sustain the belief that all Muslims
(with the exception of the Kaman, a community with a distinct history going
back to the late seventeenth century) ought to be considered as ethnic Rohing yas.
The creation of a political identity should not be confused with the cultural
identity of Muslims in Arakan, which has so far been poorly studied. After
, the failure to distinguish between the political profile of the Rohingyas
and the larger issue of Muslim identities throughout Arakan / Rakhine State has
reinforced the gap between Buddhists and Muslims.
. For reasons of space, the state policies and Burma / Myanmar’s
constitutions and citizenship laws are not reviewed here. The relevant
documents are searchable in various Internet databases, for instance, http://
. The term “Arakanese Muslims” is found in several descriptions of
the population of Arakan in the nineteenth century. See for example Phayre
(). It is unclear how many among the Muslims in Arakan still prefer this
appellation. Even in human rights reports that have given very strong support to
the Rohingya claims, for example the ALTSEAN reports, “Rakhine Muslims”
was used until .
. The term Rwangya was not widespread and was apparently only used
orally by a part of the Muslim community. It is found in a few documents of
the late s but not recorded in any colonial source or British census report.
One may hypothesize that it emerged as a term coined by the older Muslim
community to differentiate itself from the newly arriving Chittagonians.
See Tonkin (a). The term Rooinga was recorded a single time by Francis
Buchanan-Hamilton, a British doctor, during his stay in Amarapura in ,
where he interviewed Muslim deportees from Arakan to enquire about their
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 227 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
. Rohingya political identity formation took place below the surface of
political and military events during the s and blossomed in the early s,
when the creation of the Mayu Frontier Zone gave Muslim leaders and students
the free space to express their conception of a Rohingya identity within their
own community and a small circle in Rangoon. The idea of a Rohingya identity
remained the intellectual property of restricted political circles, who failed to
reach out at a national level due to rapidly changing political conditions after
, and it never entered public awareness inside or outside Burma. Printed
references to the term Rohingya that have frequently been cited after 
mostly date from the early s. After , the name Rohingya appeared rarely
in the international press. The magazine Asiaweek used Rohingya in its February
, , issue on the Myanmar army’s campaign against rebels of the Rohingya
Solidarity Organization and the brutal attempt to resettle Muslims. Reports of
the UNHCR and human rights organizations made the term relatively better
known throughout the s.
. It is worthwhile to recall the multifaceted profile of the name, because
it reflects both the complexity of the Muslim identity process that is so deeply
contested by the Rakhine Buddhists and the sudden emergence of the political
situation of self-defined Rohingya Muslims into global awareness after .
. Information on ARNO quoted in this paper is derived from texts posted
on and last accessed in July and August .
. Little detailed information is available on organizations such as Rohingya
Independent Force (RIF), Rohingya Independent Army (RIA), Rohingya
Patriotic Front (RPF), Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), and Arakan
Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) that have emerged, occasionally merged, and
waned since the s. The best overview is found in Selth ().
. One of its member organizations, the Rohingya Solidarity Organization
(RSO), reputedly cooperated with Islamist organizations in Bangladesh
and Afghanistan in the s (
rohingya-solidarity-organization-rso). RSO was founded in reaction to the 
citizenship law that denied the recognition of citizenship to many Muslims from
North Arakan. News about the negotiations of ARNO representatives with
al-Qaeda were reported by CNN ().
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 228 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
. Until the spelling reform of , Rakhine State was known as Arakan,
a term still widely used in the historical literature. When Burma became
independent in , the ethnic Rakhine (or Arakanese) failed to obtain their
own state. Arakan State was created only in . This paper will use both
terms, either singularly or together to mark historical distinctions between the
recent period and more distant times.
. For the Muslims who self-identify as Rohingyas, it means the belonging
to a separate ethnic group of Muslims living in the north of Rakhine State
that see themselves as an indigenous group and the successors of the precolonial
Muslim community of the ancient Buddhist kingdom. I have defined Rohingyas
by their origins as a political and militant movement whose foremost aim
was the creation of an autonomous Muslim zone. See Leider (b). The
expression "Rohingya movement" is meant to cover a variety of often competing
organizations that share similar aims. The political agenda that emerged during
the parliamentary period of the s largely ceded its place, since the late s,
to advocacy work calling for the national and international recognition of a
Rohingya identity and the implementation of human rights in Rakhine State.
See Leider (a).
. Even during the post- period, the ethnic tensions in Rakhine State
and the situation of the Muslims in particular did not raise major interest in
the English-language press worldwide. A rare reference to Arakan (Rakhine
State) is found in an editorial of Asiaweek of August , : “Yet the Yangon
authorities continue to mistreat and oppress Muslim minorities in the eastern
Arakan region.” It should obviously be “western” Arakan region.
. The Kamans are an indigenous Muslim community that traces its origins
back to a few hundred soldiers, aides, and noblemen who accompanied Shah
Shuja, a former Mughal governor of Bengal when he had to take refuge in
Arakan in late . After a revolt when Shah Shuja was killed, the surviving
followers were variously employed as guards at the court or resettled by the
Arakanese kings on the island of Ramree (or Yanbye). They have spread to other
places in Rakhine State as well. Kaman means “archer.”
. Since , peace negotiations between the Union Peace-Making
Working Committee (UPWC) and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 229 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
Team took place under the direction of Minister Aung Min of the president’s
cabinet, with support of the Myanmar Peace Center and input from separate
ethnic groups, organizations, and concerned parties, as well as the media. These
peace negotiations received strong international support, but they took place
within a national political matrix and have therefore been owned by the national
. The oldest Rohingya news website is Kaladan Press Network (ht t p://, with news in Bangla, Burmese, and English. Rohingya
news websites that were created since  include Rohingya News Agency
(,, with news in Arabic, English, Urdu, and
Burmese; Arakan News Agency (,, with news
in Arabic and English; and Burma Times (,, with
news in English and Burmese.
. Rohingya associations throughout the world run websites that fulfill
different functions. They serve community needs by providing a platform
to articulate their Muslim group identity and share information within
their communities about various social activities and services on offer. A
typical example is found on the website of the Canadian Burmese Rohingya
Organization ( Several websites are run by
politically active associations that use the Internet as a means to spread news
about events in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Rakhine State. They voice their
views through press releases, conferences, and round-table participations, and
by lobbying Western governments. Not all of these websites are well maintained
and up-to-date. Some of the most active between  and  were Rohingya
Blogger ( run by the activist Nay San
Lwin, based in Germany since , and the website of the Burmese Rohingya
Association of the United Kingdom ( headed by Tun
. The main source for information on ARU is its website (http://ar-union.
org/), which bears this mission statement: “Arakan Rohingya Union is a non-
profit global umbrella organization representing various Rohingya organizations
worldwide with a mission to seek a political solution to the issues faced by the
Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar / Burma, to reclaim their citizenship
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 230 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
that guarantees their political and human rights, to foster relations between
Rohingya and fellow ethnic groups of Myanmar, and to advance the Rohingya
people through improvement of social, economical, cultural, and educational
. “The aimless and helpless Rohingya activists / groups were scattered all
over the world for years in disunity and lack of support from Muslim Ummah to
spearhead the peaceful struggle of suffering Rohingyas, however, by the grace of
Almighty Allah the OIC and EBO came forward with helping hand to unite the
Rohingya leaders, activists and organization with strong OIC member countries’
resolution and finally, an umbrella organization in the form of Arakan Rohingya
Union (ARU) was formed on th May  with Representatives of twenty-five
organizations and senior Rohingya leaders by the joint efforts of OIC and EBO
which has become a symbol of Rohingya unity . . .” Quoted from http://www.
nd-aru-congress/, accessed March , .
. The conference took place at First Hotel, Bangkok, on November –,
. The title of the conference (“The Forgotten Kingdom of Arakan”) and
its subtitles (“A Public Seminar on the People of Present Day Arakan State of
Myanmar: Their History, Identity, Culture, and the Challenges They Face”)
reflected an extremely ambitious historical-cum-political agenda. Some of the
organizers had the aim to give the Rohingya organizations a place within the
ethnic front opposed to the military government. A background paper stated the
goal of the workshop was “to bring together Burmese and international scholars
to overview Arakan history with different perspectives and academic work,
creating shared knowledge.” It made reference to an idea of “several professors
of New York University” in  to “hold a history workshop concerning the
Arakan State of western Burma”; the “idea for a history workshop concerning
Arakan” circulated at a Burmese donor meeting in Oslo, Norway in ; and
a workshop supported by the National Reconciliation Program and held in
Chiang Mai in .
. Efforts to engage with the communal situation in Rakhine State go
back to the creation of the Euro-Burma Office itself, in , with the financial
support of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and the European Union “to
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 231 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
promote democracy and human rights, and to help the people of Burma prepare
for a transition to democracy” (Harn Yawnghwe in a letter to Maung San Win,
general secretary of the Association of Arakan National Council Supporting
Committee [Malaysia] of August , ). The National Reconciliation
Programme set up by EBO also included invitations to Rohingya groups. EBO
rejected allegations that its initiatives had been funded by OIC donations.
. Rohingya associations exist in many countries where Muslims originating
from the north of Arakan / Rakhine State have migrated for over seventy years
or have been resettled in recent decades. Some associations are essentially social
and religious organizations catering to the various needs of their members. They
have not all chosen to develop political activities.
. The activities of the ARU director Wakar Uddin were contested by other
leaders (Anonymous , Ibrahim ). In , only eight organizations
were allegedly invited to take part in its second general meeting. Wakar Uddin
himself has stated that the ARU membership was enlarged to  members at
the July  meeting (email to the author, October , .)
. Interpretations of developments in Rakhine State that are supportive
of Rohingya views have dominated public opinion in the U.S. Wakar Uddin
was invited to the U.S. Congress Foreign Affairs Asia Sub-committee hearing
An Unclear Roadmap: Burma’s Fragile Political Reforms and Growing
Ethnic Strife” on September , . On May , , the U.S. House of
Representatives adopted House Resolution , calling on the government of
Myanmar to end the persecution of the Rohingya minority. Rakhine Buddhists
failed to get their own perception of the conflict aired in Western media.
. A source of information on the ERC is its website http://www.theerc.
. One hopes that insiders will one day explain in some detail the formation
of the organizations mentioned in this chapter. ARNO leader Nurul Islam’s
presence in London, the tireless activism of BROUK’s Tun Khin ,and the role
of activists in Scandinavian countries in cooperation with their sympathizers
likely played noteworthy roles. Despite the rivalries of their leaders, Rohingya
groups in Europe, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East have been
cooperating again and again to release declarations, make public statements,
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 232 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
and join forces in managing local campaigns. To a certain extent, activism
in the form of loose cooperation is rather a mark of the traditional Rohingya
movement. It shows the need to react both to the vicissitudes of the lives of
Muslims in northern Rakhine State and to inner political pressures, namely,
the legitimacy of the leadership in the diaspora.
. Quoted from ERC’s mission statement on
. See the statement on its website,
us: “Burma Task Force is a united effort of Muslims to stop genocide of Muslims
in Burma. The following organizations are part of this coalition: Burmese
Rohingya Association of North America, Free Rohingya Campaign, Council
on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Council of Islamic Organizations of
Greater Chicago (CIOGC), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA NY and
Canada), Islamic Council of New England (ICNE), Islamic Organization of
North America (IONA), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Justice For
All, DawaNet, Majlis Shura of Atlanta, Michigan Muslim Community Council,
Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), Muslim Public Affairs Council
(MPAC), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), Muslim Leadership
Council of New York and Muslim Peace Coalition,” accessed on August ,
. It is true that similarly conciliatory rhetoric would be hard to find in any
Rakhine Buddhist writing.
. Besides the Muslim specificities that need to be taken into account when
dealing with the Rakhine State crisis, nuances need to be considered when
describing the attitudes of the Buddhist Rakhine, whose political positions have
sometimes been summarized in an altogether negative way.
. The events included Zarni’s presentation, “The Slow Burning Genocide
of Myanmar’s Rohingya,” at the International Conference on Refugee Studies,
Oxford University (March –, ); the organization of “Decades of
Persecution on Rohingya: A Genocide,” a conference at the London School
of Economics (April , ); Amartya Sen’s lecture, “The Slow Genocide of
the Rohingyas,” at the Harvard Global Equality Initiative (November , );
the seminar organized by the Swedish Rohingya Association in Stockholm
(February , ); “The Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar— Elections and
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 233 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
Beyond,” the Annual Owen M. Kupferschmid Lecture given by Maung Zarni at
the Holocaust and Human Rights Project at Boston College Law School (April
, ); and “End Myanmar’s Persecution of the Rohingya,” a conference held
at the Nobel Institute in Oslo with the participation of seven Nobel Peace Prize
winners (May –, ).
. See the press release “Humanitarian Crisis Affecting Rohingya Muslims
is the Product of Genocide” of May , , at
product-genocide/, accessed on September , .
. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide (voted by the UN on December , ) defines genocide as “any
of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group;
causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately
inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical
destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births
within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another
group.” Organizations like Genocide Watch that inform, document, and report
on genocide and mass atrocities generally view genocide as an ongoing process;
they have established criteria to assess and describe in various ways the steps
towards destruction. A repertory of genocide prevention organizations is found
. It is important to note that the great number of displaced people
(over ,) drew the international media attention from the situation of
the Muslims in northern Rakhine State (where the majority of the Muslims
identifying as Rohingyas live and where there have been no refugee camps) to
the IDP camps in Sittway and elsewhere.
. I do not suggest that the Rakhine Buddhist perception of the crisis is
identical with the approach of the Myanmar government. Media reports have
generally conveyed the impression that they share the same interests and that
there is a de facto alliance between the two. For reasons of space, this important
point cannot be discussed here. Rakhine nationalists underscore the long
Ethnic&Religious_interior.indd 234 2/6/2560 BE 13:34
standing dissent with the Myanmar government and decry the failures of its
. In an interview with Equal Times on September , , Nay San Lwin,
a Rohingya activist running the website “Rohingya Blogger,” reiterated the
need for foreign pressure on Myanmar and deplored that Western countries
had dropped sanctions. Referring to Aung San Suu Kyi, at that time the leader
of the main opposition party who was steering away from any kind of Muslim
connections during the electoral battle, he expressed his resignation on Rohingya
lobbying prospects.
. On the other hand, proponents of the genocide thesis seem to view the
Rakhine Buddhists to a certain extent as victims themselves, being merely
instruments of a government-designed genocidal project.
. In the interview of Wakar Uddin by Voice of America on August ,
, the director of ARU does not mention the existence of the Rakhine
Buddhists, sticking to the narrative that the government of Burma has followed
a “genocidal policy” of “ethnic cleaning” since .
. Bangladeshi scholars working with the Rohingya community in
Bangladesh have developed more complex and encompassing approaches (Uddin
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... A 19th-century missionary described the Muslim refugees as a bilingual group that adopted Arakanese dress, food habits, and customs and they differed from the Buddhists only by religion and language. They integrated into the host society more easily than the Arakanese (Leider, 2017). ...
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The issue surrounding the Rohingya in Southeast Asia is a contemporary topic that warranted a serious scholarly pursuit in terms of qualitative research and for providing a better understanding of the situation in which women had to live with in terms of their survival and resilience in times of statelessness. Today, Rohingya people remains stateless, and in diasporas in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the rest of the world. This study looked into the plight of the Rohingya women and documented their ‘lifeworld’ perspectives using critical hermeneutic phenomenology while pursuing the study in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study analyzed the narratives of nine (9) Rohingya women. They responded to a semi-structured, open-ended questions in the Google Form which were then mined through internet-based applications. Data revealed, among many other results, that for the theme of Pain, Rohingya women meant discrimination, suffering and genocide. In the theme of Hope, they continue to hope for more empowered women, improved women’s health and independent women. For Contentment, they defined it to mean their refugee status, identity and community. For happiness, they mean that it was Trust of Other Women, Work and Family. Further, they defined their statelessness as being women with no voice and living in unsafe communities. For sorrow, it meant harassment, child marriages, and no work. Finally, resilience it meant having Dignity, Faith in Allah, and Freedom. Furthermore, the study revealed that under the hermeneutic circle, discrimination, as an example, was interpreted and considered under the conditions that perpetuated violence against them aside from the Tatmadaw, civilian Buddhists population in Myanmar; and that there is lack of support for women in humanitarian efforts resulting indiscrimination; and that their conditions are gender-based. In conclusion, among others, Rohingya women embody the definition of pain through the structural, institutional and social genocide that has been unleashed by Myanmar unto the Rohingya community which resulted in their ongoing discrimination and suffering. This study thus recommends, among others, that as a contribution to the study of contemporary Southeast Asian Studies, the narratives of the Rohingya women bring in the need for more solidarity to continually present their life’s meaningful existence to the international community via the ASEAN, the United Nations and the entire humanitarian community. Keywords: Rohingya Women, resilience, Southeast Asia, genocide, critical hermeneutic phenomenology, statelessness, discrimination, harassment
... Since that time, the term has been quite common in a political context but has not gained widespread national recognition. Rohingya became a common name for Rakhine Muslims after the violence of 2012 (Leider 2017). However, it is more precise to identify Rohingya as Muslims of Bengali ethnic origin, who have been living with other diverse, Buddhist Burmese groups in the Rakhine region for quite a long time. ...
Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have long endured severe discrimination and persecution. Although the Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for centuries, their existence is not fully accepted by the majority of Buddhist society. Rohingya Muslims residing in the north-western area of Rakhine are considered stateless people. In the last ten years, Rohingya Muslims have been treated severely and even expelled from their place of birth. This humanitarian crisis has attracted many international organizations that are aiding Rohingya and urging Myanmar's civilian government to recognize Rohingya as an official ethnic group. This article explores the roots of Islamophobia in Myanmar and analyses its effect on Muslims’ daily life in Myanmar, and in particular for the Rohingya. Ultimately, it is important to discern the path of democratization in Myanmar, as currently led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), analyzing the present state and future of democratization of the country, especially on a socio-political level.
... They were also afraid of revenge attacks should Rohingya refugees return. There is therefore among many Rakhine deep-seated frustration, anxiety and sense of injustice (Leider 2017). Meanwhile, the Rohingya IDPs in the Kyaukpyu camp, concerned about their children's future, repeatedly spoke of their desire to go home. ...
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This article explores whether a relational approach to peacebuilding, shared multireligious perspectives and widening networks can bring sources of strength which enable positive peacebuilding and create grassroots, cross-community peace. While religious peacebuilding organizations have become the object of a burgeoning literature, the role of multireligious organisations in peacebuilding has received far less attention. The purpose of this paper is to redress this lack. By examining the influence, challenges and benefits of multireligious approaches to transnational peacebuilding, we hope to develop a sharper and more critically nuanced understanding of the potential role of multireligious organisations in global peacebuilding, and consider what, if anything, distinguishes them from secular and other faith-based organisations. We do so by analysing the impact of a project carried out in Myanmar by Religions for Peace. The project provides three case studies which offer unique opportunities to consider the limits and potential of multireligious grassroots interventions in conflict contexts with very different histories and cultural configurations.
... On one side, the population recognized today under the self-denomination "Rohingya" would mainly be composed of descendants of two groups: the Muslim communities already present in the Arakanese Kingdom before 1785 (year of the Burmese conquest of Arakan) and, essentially the descendants of Indian migrants brought over by the English after 1825 (e.g. Jacques Leider, 2004Leider, , 2013Leider, , 2017. Observations of colonial administrators, particularly Paton (1828) and Burney (1842), and finally of the WWII English pilot Irwin (1945) corroborate this version. ...
Technical Report
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This report is the first by an organization that specializes in indigenous rights. It provides verbatim the accounts of Rohingya refugees interviewed in March of 2018. 1. The 2017 crisis should not be isolated, but placed in the context of a long-lasting series of conflicts that have been occurring since the 40s. 2. From the 25th of August 2017, the Burmese army (Tatmadaw) sought to clear out the townships of (1) Maungdaw and of (2) Buthidaung (both in the Maungdaw District), as well as a (3) micro-region of Rathedaung (Sittwe District) that is adjacent to Maungdaw of their majority Muslim populations. It conducted a campaign of terror that included group executions, rape, atrocities, and at least two massacres. 3. The modus operandi for the violence generally follows a pattern: (1) the army enters into a village, shoots at the villagers, sets areas afire, and sometimes commits atrocities; (2) the villagers then flee and hide themselves in one or several muro (forests, mountains) for several days; (3) the army does not follow them; (4) finally, the villagers set off walking, sometimes for many days, to the Bangladeshi border. 4. The campaign of terror's main targets have been men; young men between 20 and 30 years of age are disproportionately the main victims of this mass violence. Eliticide is another dimension of the repression. 5. The lack of representation, leadership, and interlocution from the Rohingya is a significant anthropological fact that is politically detrimental to them under current circumstances.
... 28 The most prominent of these groups, the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU), the Burma Task Force (BTF), and the European Rohingya Council 27 The ANP also won 12 out of 17 seats in the national lower house but fell just short of an outright majority at state level (Mathieson 2016). 28 See Leider (2017) for an in-depth analysis. ...
This book investigates the patterns of conflict management in contemporary Southeast Asia. The region has long been characterized by the twin process of state-formation and nation-building, which has been responsible for most of the region’s intrastate and interstate conflicts. While this process is still ongoing, regional conflicts and their management are increasingly affected by globalisation, which not only serves as a new source of, or exacerbating factor to, conflict, but also makes new instruments available for conflict management. Employing the concepts of incompatibility management and mediation regime, the book analyses the management of seven conflicts in the region: the Rohingya crisis and the Kachin conflict in Myanmar, the Khmer Krom conflict in Vietnam, the West Papua conflict in Indonesia, the political conflict in Thailand, the Mekong River conflicts involving five Southeast Asian countries and China and the transboundary haze problem emanating from Indonesia. The efforts to manage each of them are imagined as constituting a mediation regime, and its effectiveness is assessed in terms of good governance. Among the findings of the book is that the measures of manoeuvring around incompatibilities are employed predominantly in managing regional conflicts. In intrastate conflicts, which mostly involve ethnic minorities, the authorities first aim to eliminate, or impose its own position on, ethnic parties. When this strategy proves unsuccessful, they have no choice but manoeuvre around incompatibilities, which may eventually open up a space for mutual learning. In interstate conflicts, the manoeuvring around strategy works in a more straightforward manner, contributing to regional stability. However, the stability is achieved at the cost of local communities and the natural environment, which absorb the incompatibilities in conflict.
... 28 The most prominent of these groups, the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU), the Burma Task Force (BTF), and the European Rohingya Council 27 The ANP also won 12 out of 17 seats in the national lower house but fell just short of an outright majority at state level (Mathieson 2016). 28 See Leider (2017) for an in-depth analysis. ...
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The Myanmar army’s disproportionate use of military force in response to attacks in 2016 and 2017 by Harakah Al-Yaqin (Faith Movement) drove some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine across the border to Bangladesh. While not the first military-driven exodus of Rohingya from Rakhine, the current humanitarian crisis is linked to violence that broke out in 2012 between the Rohingya and another Myanmar minority, the Rakhine Buddhists, who first came into conflict during World War II. This chapter aims to present an understanding of the conflict in Rakhine, including the factors that have shaped it over time until the present, its incompatibilities, and their management. The first part of the chapter discusses competing Buddhist-Muslim perceptions of history and identity, which form a core incompatibility in the conflict, the long history of Buddhist-Muslim relations in the state, and the effects of British colonial policy. The chapter then turns to the post-independence period and examines the triangular nature of the conflict, the ‘Burmanization’ programme that followed Ne Win’s 1962 coup, discriminatory measures introduced by the government, the introduction of the 1982 Citizenship Law, the role of the ‘War on Terror’, and the tenuous links of Rohingya militant groups to international terrorist organizations. The final part focuses on the build-up to the 2012 violence and the current crisis, including the role of international media.
... This does not mean that the Rohingya fail to recognize the existence of non-Rohingya Muslims in the country; rather, it means that the Rohingya highlight the history of Islam in what was once the Arakanese Kingdom as part of an indigenous claim to territorial and legal belonging. Although there is a consistent emphasis on religious history, explanations of ethnic history vary somewhat; some argue that there is a unique ethnic identity descended from indigenous populations and seventh-century Arab and Persian migrants, whereas others have suggested ancestral ties to South Indian Tamils (Leider 2017). From a geographic perspective, these different explanations are less about the complete accuracy of precolonial history (there is scant surviving evidence for any given account) than they are an illustration of how narratives of belonging are framed around a particular place that locates unique combinations of religious, ethnic, and cultural influences. ...
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The term critical geographies of human rights refers to the idea that law, society, geography, and injustice are mutually constitutive. This article proposes one possible theoretical framework for analyzing critical geographies of human rights, drawing from scholarship in critical human geography, sociolegal studies, and public international law. The article uses a case study regarding the Rohingya population of Myanmar to analyze how this theoretical approach works in practice, asking how narratives about the term Rohingya are built into, and reinforced by, legal definitions of belonging, exclusion, and citizenship. It argues that the situation of the Rohingya illustrates the international legal dimensions of material injustice while showing how human rights discourse is part of ongoing geopolitical dynamics. Examining the situation of the Rohingya thus provides a way to understand how critical geographies of human rights can be used to analyze the relationship between law, geography, and injustice. Key Words: citizenship, human rights, legal geography, Myanmar, sociolegal studies.
... After 2009 (the year of the Thai navy scandal linked to the Rohingya boat people in the Andaman Sea), but much more so after 2012, the conflictual situation in Rakhine State has conditioned the rise of new Rohingya organizations, such as the Arakan Rohingya Union (founded in Jeddah, 2011) or the European Rohingya Council (registered in Amsterdam, 2012), lobbying in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. 6 A wave of new leaders abandoned the intricate set of historical arguments used by their predecessors and powerfully stressed the specific Muslim victimhood of the Rohingya. 7 The successful switch from dwelling on an obscure chapter of local history towards disseminating a globally understood message of victimization has certainly been a major reason for making history-bound discourses irrelevant among the Rohingya organizations themselves. ...
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Since the late 1990s, the public representation of the Muslim minority of Rakhine State (Myanmar), widely known as Rohingyas after the 2012 communal violence, has focused on their status as victims of state oppression following an extended track record of human rights violations. As Rohingyas form huge migrant and refugee communities in several countries of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, victimhood has increasingly come to define their identity as a persecuted minority. The present article argues that, while victimhood does not preclude the agency, the hegemonic role of a postulated passive victimhood invariably posits one community (and the state) against the other and hampers the possibility of open conversations about rivaling perceptions of the past and ultimately the prospect of political dialogue.
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The rise of populism in the twenty-first century has been marked by the use of religion and national identity as emotive mobilizing forces to increase in-group solidarity and demarcate the notional boundaries of communities. The process often leads to the exclusion of vulnerable ethnoreligious minorities and to increased violence against them. This article analyses the role of fear as a principal emotion in the context of ethnoreligious conflict with reference to the Rohingya conflict in Myanmar. The article is divided in three parts. Part one explores notions of collective fear with reference to religious and ethnic conflict. Part two illustrates how collective existential fear has fuelled populist religious infused responses to the Rohignya conflict leading to the latest mass exodus of 2017. The final part considers whether fear can be an instrument of construction rather than destruction, to help build bridges than destroy, to connect people than isolate them.
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The name Rohingya denotes an ethnoreligious identity of Muslims in North Rakhine State, Myanmar (formerly Burma). The term became part of public discourse in the late 1950s and spread widely following reports on human rights violations against Muslims in North Rakhine State during the 1990s, and again after 2012. Claims for regional Muslim autonomy emerged during World War II and led to the rise of a Rohingya ethnonationalist movement that drew on the local Muslim imaginaire, as well as regional history and archaeology.
The Arakanese kingdom (Rakhine state in modern Myanmar) grew from the fifteenth century AD from a small agrarian state with its nucleus in the hart of the Kaladan valley to a significant local power by the early seventeenth century. Arakan asserted its influence across the northern shores of the Bay of Bengal. In the first decades of the seventeenth century the Arakanese kings of Mrauk U received tribute from local rulers between Dhaka and Pegu, cities more than a thousand miles apart. The Mughal rulers of Bengal were even forced to build a string of forts to defend the areas around Dhaka and Hugli against Arakanese incursions. From the middle of the seventeenth century the Arakanese state was gripped by a seemingly sudden decline that would culminate in civil war at the end of the seventeenth century and the loss of control over south-eastern Bengal, followed by the conquest of Arakan by the Burmese in the eighteenth century. The rapid rise and decline of the Arakanese state between the early fifteenth and the end of the seventeenth century is the subject of this dissertation.
The Rohingya Crisis and the Risk of Atrocities in Myanmar: An ASEAN Challenge 236 | JACquEs P. lEIdER and Call to Action
APHR (Asian Parliamentarians for Human Rights). 2015. "The Rohingya Crisis and the Risk of Atrocities in Myanmar: An ASEAN Challenge 236 | JACquEs P. lEIdER and Call to Action." Jakarta. Accessed October 4, 2015. http://www.
Open Letter to the Leaders of the Burmese Government and the Democracies
  • Arakan Muslim Conference
Arakan Muslim Conference. 1951. "Open Letter to the Leaders of the Burmese Government and the Democracies. Charter of the Constitutional Demands of the Arakani Muslims." 1951. Accessed August 14, 2015. http://www.
The Slow-Burning Genocide Of Myanmar's Rohingya
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Cowley, Alice, and Maung Zarni. 2014. "The Slow-Burning Genocide Of Myanmar's Rohingya." Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal 23 (3): 681-752.
A Fatal Distraction from Federalism Religious Conflict in Rakhine
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Policies of Persecution Ending Abusive State Policies against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar
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Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims: Is Genocide Occurring in Myanmar's Rakhine State? A Legal Analysis
  • Fortify Rights
  • K Allard
Fortify Rights and Allard K. Lowenstein International Rights Clinic Yale Law School. 2015. "Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims: Is Genocide Occurring in Myanmar's Rakhine State? A Legal Analysis." Accessed December 15, 2015. Rohingya_October_2015.pdf.
Census of India 1921
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The Rohingya Muslims Ending a Cycle of Exodus
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