An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
"First, it poses great difficulties for the government. Any ethnic group demanding this kind of recognition must establish their origins. Even if that is done, incorporating it into the records entails lengthy administrative and legal changes. The term ‘Rohingya’ was not mentioned anywhere before the ’50s or ’60s. Additionally, granting such special status has other significant implications. It would entitle them to special social, political and even legal benefits. If they are given this privilege, their next step will be to demand separate statehood....."
Derek Tonkin writes: Despite Habib Siddiqui's vituperations, Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn is fully justified in pointing out that that the term "Rohingya" is not to be found as an ethnic designation before the 1950s and 1960s. The sole historical reference to a term 'Rooinga' recorded in 1799 by Francis Buchanan, the British doctor and polymath who accompanied a diplomatic mission to the Court of Ava in the new capital of Amarapura in 1795, was obtained presumably from one or more Muslim residents deported 10 years previously from Arakan to Ava. He was told that they "call themselves Rooinga or natives of Arakan". However, by "the real natives of Arakan" both they and Hindus "are called Kulaw Yakain, or stranger Arakan".
It is doubtful that this isolated reference, which Buchanan never used again in any of his voluminous writings and which no other contemporary used either in any variation or in any context, should be taken as an ethnic designation. It should be seen rather as a geographic locator, equivalent to "Arakaner" or "Rohanger", as much as we might use "Londoner" or "New Zealander". Had it been an accepted contemporary ethnic designation, it would surely have been cited much more frequently than on this one, unique occasion in an article on linguistics in a learned journal.
Habib Siddiqui's assertion that "any curious researcher may find the mention of the term in history books and travelogues of Europeans who had visited the region" is simply not true.This veritable obsession with ‘Rohingya’ as an historical designation is sadly shared even by some in the West. While Norwegian State Secretary Morten Høglund was commendably content to refer to “persons referred to as Rohingya” at a Conference in Oslo last month, to the fury of the organisers who were hell-bent on proving “genocide”, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire, who has at least been to Rakhine State, expressed his concerns for the Rohingya in a debate in the House of Commons on 14 January 2015, adding pugnaciously: “I use that term now and I shall continue to use it as I have always done.” Mr Swire followed this up on 9 June 2015 with the astonishing news in a Written Reply: “We have got charts, which we have shared with the Burmese Government, and they show very clearly that there were Muslims, as they were described in the ledger, going right back to the 18th Century. It is absolutely certain, as far as we are concerned, that the Rohingya have been in Rakhine for many, many years.” I concede though this apparent reference to 18th Century Rohingya could be interpreted as “some of those who today call themselves Rohingya”, though I think it in any case unlikely that there is more than a minority of present-day Rakhine Muslims who can trace their ancestry back so far. There has to date been no meaningful response to my informal request to the Foreign and Commonwealth for access, or the provision of references, to these 18th Century charts and ledger. Perhaps I should put my request instead to the Myanmar Government.
IMF Concludes 2015 Article IV Consultation Mission to Myanmar
Suu Kyi skips confict-torn State on campaign trail
But inside Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which is preparing to hold its freest elections in decades, Ms. Suu Kyi risks losing voter support if she appears too sympathetic to the Rohingya. That could deny her National League for Democracy party enough seats in parliament to shape Myanmar’s democratic future.
Struggle for control of USDP enters Parliament
Myanmar Times - 1 July 2015
The party has officially stated that the Speaker would remain in charge until this year’s election, but some party member and government officials have said that Thura U Shwe Mann is only a temporary leader and would have to relinquish the post to U Thein Sein if the latter decides to run for election.
The offensive which the authors say was launched “beginning in the 1970s” which led to violent clashes and resulted in the displacement of over 250,000 refugees misrepresents the results of the nationwide review into illegal immigration which started in early 1978 and which was completed without too much trouble in other border states except for Arakan. There what US diplomatic cables have described as “mass hysteria” among the local rural population of “Chittagonians” (as US cables described local Muslims) led to their flight into Bangladesh, fearful no doubt of what happened in 1942 when many thousands of Muslims were slaughtered in Central and Southern Arakan as the British withdrew (resulting also in a similar fate for Buddhists resident in Northern Arakan). Other diplomatic archives, notably British, as well as accounts from UN staff, reject allegations at the time that the Burmese military were seeking to drive the Muslims out of Arakan.
That said, there is much to commend in the latter part of the article, notably the section “Addressing Grievances”. I would however draw attention to the following extract from the July 2013 Report of the Inquiry Commission on Sectarian Violence in Rakhine State:
"2.8.5. In 1998, a 5,000-strong Bengali force headed by the Rohingya Liberation Organization (RLO) entered Maungdaw and destroyed Buddhist monasteries, set fire to Buddhist neighbourhoods and killed several Rakhine, again attempting to take over Maungdaw by force. The local police force successfully repelled the attack."
A serious study, seeking "to distil two fundamental issues from the morass of blame, moral panic and emotional wrangling that the Rohingya issue has been sucked into. The first concerns citizenship in Myanmar and the second bears upon the irregular migration routes taken by the Rohingya and the Bangladeshis." Illegal migration into Arakan however, notes Derek Tonkin, was not confined to 1978 and 1992, but has rather continued all the time since independence.
Derek Tonkin writes: A puzzling article by a British Conservative MP who, as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, ought to have access to more reliable information than the activist sources he uses uncritically . He is wrong on the matter of alleged impunity (see paragraphs 9.12 and 9.13 of the report of the Committee of Inquiry), wrong to ignore totally the Buddhist casualties at the time of the July and October 2012 fighting (see details in paragraph 5.2.6 of the same report - there were more Buddhist than Muslim injured), wrong to characterise as genocide communal violence which has been endemic in Arakan for a very long time, wrong on the historical and present-day reality of the situation, and wrong in labelling Iraqi Yazidis as "Christian".
The only one section, which was voted in favor, is Section 59(d) dealing with the qualification of a presidential candidate. The amendment bill proposes that the candidate shall be well acquainted with the affairs of defense instead of military.
Other amendment bills for the remaining five Sections - 59(f) , 436(a), 436(b), 60(c) and 418(b) - were turned down as the number of voters stood less than 75 percent, the percentage required to pass the bill.
The amendment bill for the Section 59(f), which deals with the eligibility to become president, proposes lifting ban only on a presidential candidate whose son-in-law or daughter-in-law shall not be foreign citizen and enjoy the privileges of a foreign government, but continues ban without change on a candidate whose spouse or one of the legitimate children is a foreign citizen and enjoy the privileges of a foreign government. (Continue to Page 2 of the Xin Hua Report)