Tuesday, September 26, 2017 | ePaper

Rakhine was an independent state and it should remain independent

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Sakeeb Kamal :
LAST couple of weeks we have been deeply shocked by the brutality of the Burmese army on Rohingya Muslims. Rohingya Muslims had been a victim of Burmese military for almost 40 years but recently it has reached the extreme level. Up until now only Rohingya Muslims had been their target but now they are even killing Hindus. They are even setting up mines near the border to kill them. It is clearly seen that it is a planed ethnic cleansing. They are intentionally trying to push Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh. Our government assuring us to solve this matter diplomatically. But the matter of concern is, Rohingya Muslims do not have any proof of citizenship as Myanmar government always deny their existence. Now the question arises how we can push them back if they do not have proof of citizenship?
Rakhine State which was formerly known as Arakan was independent until 1784. The history of the region of Arakan State can be roughly divided into seven parts. The first four divisions and the periods are based on the location of the centre of power of the main independent Rakhine-dominated politics in the northern Rakhine region, especially along the Kaladan River. Thus, the history is divided into the Dhanyawadi, Waithali, Laymro and Mrauk U. Mrauk U was conquered by the Konbaung dynasty of Burma in 1784-85, after which Rakhine became part of the Konbaung kingdom of Burma. Due to Burmese brutality many Rakhine nationals sought refuge in Bangladesh whom today we call Mogh. In 1824, the first Anglo-Burmese war erupted and in 1826, Rakhine (alongside Tanintharyi) was ceded to the British as reparation by the Burmese to the British. Rakhine thus became part of the province of Burma of British India. In 1948, Burma was given independence and Rakhine became part (colony) of the new federal republic.
Based on Rakhine oral histories and inscriptions in certain temples, the history of the Rakhine region dates back nearly five thousand years. The Rakhine people trace their societal history back to as far as 3325 BCE and have given a lineal succession of 227 native monarchs and princes down to the last ruler in 1784. They also describe their territory of including, in varying points of time, the regions of Ava, the Irrawaddy Delta, the port town of Thanlyin (Syriam) and parts of eastern Bengal. However, the expanse of the successive Rakhine kingdoms does not exactly corroborate with certain known historical documentation.
According to Rakhine legend, the first recorded kingdom arose, centered on the northern town of Dhanyawadi in the 34th Century BCE and lasted until 327 CE. Rakhine documents and inscriptions state that the famed Mahamuni Buddha image was cast in Dhanyawadi in around 554 BCE when the Buddha visited the kingdom. After the fall of Dhanyawadi in the 4th Century CE, the centre of power shifted to a new dynasty based in the town of Waithali. The Waithali kingdom ruled the regions of Rakhine from the middle of the 4th Century to 818 CE. The period is seen as the classical period of Rakhine culture, architecture and Buddhism, as the Waithali period left behind more archaeological remains compared to its predecessor. A new dynasty emerged in four towns along the Laymro River as Waithali waned in influence, and ushered in the Lemro period, where four principal towns served as successive capitals.
The final Kingdom of Mrauk U was founded in 1429 by Min Saw Mon. It is seen by the Rakhine people as the golden age of their history, as Mrauk U served as a commercially important port and base of power in the Bay of Bengal region and involved in extensive maritime trade with Arabia and Europe. The country steadily declined from the 17th century onwards after the loss of Chittagong to the Mughal Empire in 1666. Internal instability, rebellion and dethroning of kings were very common. The Portuguese, during the era of their greatness in Asia, gained a temporary establishment in Arakans.
From 1947 to 1961, local mujahideen fought government forces in an attempt to have the mostly Rohingya populated Mayu peninsula in northern Rakhine State secede from Myanmar, so it could be annexed by East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the mujahideen lost most of its momentum and support, resulting in most of them surrendering to government forces.
In the 1970s Rohingya Islamist movements began to emerge from remnants of the mujahideen, and the fighting culminated with the Burmese government launching a massive military operation named Operation King Dragon in 1978. In the 1990s, the well-armed Rohingya Solidarity Organisation was the main perpetrator of attacks on Burmese authorities near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.
In October 2016, clashes erupted on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border between government security forces and a new insurgent group, Harakah al-Yaqin, resulting in the deaths of at least 40 people (excluding civilians). It was the first major resurgence of the conflict since 2001. In November 2016, violence erupted again, bringing the death toll to 134.
During the early hours of 25 August 2017, up to 150 insurgents launched coordinated attacks on 24 police posts and the 552nd Light Infantry Battalion army base in Rakhine State, leaving 71 dead (12 security personnel and 59 insurgents). It was the first major attack by Rohingya insurgents since November 2016.
But not only Rohingya Muslims, but also a group of Rakhine nationals also took arms against Burmese Military known as Arakan Defense Group. They fought against the Burmese ally Japan, during the Second World War. Now to control this area, Burmese Army deliberately using the rage of Rakhine Buddhist against the minority Rohingya Muslims.  
This is a well thought plan by the Burmese government and the irony of fate is that they have most major super powers at their corner including Russia, China and India. Even though the UN has repeatedly criticized the Burmese government over the Rohingya issue, western world does not seem to be bothered as much as they were in case of Iraq and Afghanistan. If we take a look at world history, this sort of problems is seldom being solved diplomatically.  In 1971 we had to liberate our country by using weapon against the occupied Pakistan Army. Today or tomorrow we may have to use the similar tactics against Myanmar government. Myanmar Army has already breached International law by entering Bangladeshi skyline. This type of provocative act deserves severe action. Our government needs to act strongly and rapidly. Otherwise we may need to feed these Rohingya people for eternity, which will cause the destruction of our economy for good.

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