Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Question of Rohingya Nationality

The racists within Burma including the Rakhine community in Arakan would deny the national existence of Rohingyas. They claim that the Rohingyas are outsiders who had migrated not only during the British era but also in years subsequent to the independence of Pakistan and Bangladesh. This claim is preposterous, a blatant lie.

As I have noted elsewhere, the Rohingyas are the bhumiputras (indigenous or original inhabitants) of Arakan. One of the founding fathers of Union of Burma was Sao Shwe Thaik, who was a Shan. He led and organized the Panglong conference in March 1946, which led to the Panglong Agreement on Feb. 12, 1947 (which was later to be celebrated as the “Union Day”). He was appointed Counsellor to the Governor; later he was elected the first President of independent Burma (1948–52). He famously said, 

 "If the Rohingyas are not indigenous, nor am I".”

This great visionary man (Sao Shwe Thaik) without whose active leadership role and contribution Burma would have disintegrated a long time ago, let alone the independence delayed, was arrested at the time of the 1962 coup, orchestrated by Gen. Ne Win.  His youngest son was the one fatality, shot dead, in what was generally described as a 'bloodless' coup, and he himself died shortly afterwards while in military custody. His noble son, Han Yawnghew, when recently asked about the Rohingya nationality issue confirmed his father's statement by saying“I understand that during the time of the Constituent Assembly in 1947 after the signing of the Panglong Agreement that February & before the Union of Burma came into being in January 1948 - my father Sao Shwe Thaike was asked if the Rohingyas of Arakan are indigenous Peoples? My father, who is a Shan as am I, replied - "if the Rohingyas are not indigenous, nor am I".”

Those of the readers who are interested to learn, here is a must-read link to the question of Rohingya citizenship, written by Mr. Nurul Islam (UK). 

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