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Arakan Palestine of the east: in a different perspective

By Qutub Shah


Due
to similarities between Rohingya Issue and Palestine issue in some
aspects, we found many writers and thinkers assimilating the former
to the latter using different terms. This was E. Forechamer, a
British who described Arakan as ‘Palestine of the east’ saying,
“Arakan to be the Palestine of the east”. In an article
published by Malaysia-Chonicle.com this land is pointed saying
‘Southeast Asia’s Palestine’. Some others, like Ramzy Baroud
labeled the Rohingyas as ‘Palestinians of the east’. These are
not mere words but different writer has viewed different points of
resemblance such as being a decades-old issue, of tripartite sides,
having aggressions against Muslims, weakness of the world in solving
the problems, displacement of the inhabitants from their fatherland
by expatriates and aliens.

Here
I would like to discuss this resemblance in a different perspective.
Firstly, let me draw your attention to the historical background in
brief. Before 1948, there wasn’t a state called Israel in world
atlas. Jews were a dispersed and fugitive people here and there under
the shade of mercy of the Christendom. According to Jewish belief,
the Jews consider themselves as ‘the selected people of the God’
(شعب الله المختار
)
and the other creatures created for their services. In a nutshell,
the differences and conflicts between Judaism and Christianity are
very deep-rooted. Consequently, the Jews treated the people of other
religions as slaves and believed to eat their properties in any way
is legal for them and not a sin. They used to torture them,
ill-treat, and sow dissension, cause mischief among them. The
co-existence was never imagined. The Christian societies were
suffering from evil deeds and actions of Jews and several attempts to
get rid of them had been made. Even Hitler & Nazi extermination
of the Jews seemed to be futile. The last option the Christians have
adopted is to sweep them out of their societies. Finally, it was
decided to establish a separate Jewish state and declared the
establishment of the state of Israel in May 14, 1948 as recognized in
the Balfour
Declaration
 of the 2nd November, 1917, and re-affirmed in
the Mandate
of the League of Nations
.


This
establishment a Jewish country among Muslims and the creation of
Muslim-Jews issue serves the national interests of Christians as
follows:
  • The
    Christians have got rid of Jews and their mischiefs;
  • The
    Christians have become safe from any possible danger from the
    Muslims who had conquered a part of Europe a day, and have no longer
    to think against the Muslim as they have prepared a permanent
    resistant (Jews) in the Muslim world;
  • The
    Christians have become judges over the Jews and Muslims to settle
    their disputes.
If
we see the Arakanese issue in depth, it is really ‘the Second
Palestine’.



The
enmity between Rakhines and Burmans is well known through the ages.
Because, as the word ‘Rakhine’ means i.e. ‘Ogre’, they were
famous in the region for their wildness, savagery, cruelty and
truculence. When they were civilized a bit, they developed from being
cannibals to pirates. In the same time, they allegedly claim to be
descendants of the Sakya clan of Magadha, to whom Buddha is
attributed. To justify their claim of nobility, they had further
created mythical stories like the peregrination of Buddha to Arakan
and his introducing the Buddhism into Arakan by himself, breathing
personally on a statue of himself (Mahamuni) cast at the order of the
Arakan king, causing it to assume the Buddha’s physical form. Due to
these privileges, say it virtues or vices, it becomes hard for them
to co-exist with Muslims or to accept social inferiority under
Burmans. This kind of sentiments motivated them to make all attempts
for self-sovereignty. Especially, since the fall of Arakan kingdom in
1784 into Burma, the separation of their alleged lost Arakan kingdom
has been remaining as the unique dream of each and every Rakhine.


Finally
the Burmans were obliged to adopt a policy that under his Burma
Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) regime’s socialistic constitution
former Dictator Ne Win had granted statehood of Arakan in 1974
changing its name to “Rakhine State” to attribute it only to the
Rakhine or the Buddhist community of Arakan, at the exclusion of the
Muslim Rohingya ignoring past Rohingya-Rakhine co-existence there,
distorting Muslim history of Arakan and portraying the aliens as
inhabitants and vice versa.



On the other hand,
Arakan was the first port of advent of Islam to Myanmar in 788.
That’s why Arakan has the privilege of being the Islamic cultural
capital of Myanmar till the date. Having a Muslim gathering besides,
the Buddhist community always lives in fear of penetrating of Islam
into their land and considers the Rohingyas as a threat to their
territorial and religious entity. Beside other aspects, this
groundless fear is seen in Burmese literature. For instance, a racist
called Khin Maung Saw warns the Buddhists and stirs their feeling
writing, “Islamization
of Burma Through Chittagonian Bengalis as Rohingya Refugees.”



Simultaneously,
the Burmanization of Burman nationalism is the root of every minority
problem in Myanmar. Burmanization refers to a carefully crafted
set of government policies that aim at expending superiority and
dominance of the Burman (Bama) ethnic majority over minorities by
assaulting their language, religion, culture, history and even lives.
Although its history is dated back to earlier time, some of its
manifestations appeared in the early 19th
century, especially pre-independence era by the formation of Burman
Nationaists movement such as Dobama Asiayone (which can be translated
into either “We Burmans” or “Our Burma“)
in 1930. The organization was nationalist in nature, and supported
Burman supremacy. Its members used Thakin, literally “master”
as their titles. The slogan of the organization was “Burma
is our country; Burmese literature is our literature; Burmese
language is our language. Love our country, raise the standards of
our literature, respect our language.”

Here I am leaving the scope for you to think of what this slogan
inspires. Dobama Asiayone was keen assimilating ethnic minorities
into Burman culture or assaulting it. The Burmanization was revived
again 1961 when the military came to power.

How
the creation of Rohingya-Rakhine issue serves the national interests
of Burman Ethnic majority?


For
the reasons mentioned above, both Rohingyas and Rakhines are unwanted
by Burmans, but the latter is preferred when compared to the former
because of the unity in religion and ancestry. Not only the
decades-old issue has remained unsolved for decades but also communal
conflicts are instigated between them from time to time so that, if
they become busy with each other and are weakened by fighting each
other,
  • The
    Burman society can get rid of Rakhines mischiefs and place obstacle
    in the way of Rakhines attempt to separate their alleged kingdom;
  • The
    Burmans can be safe from any hazard expected from the Muslims and
    also have no longer to think against these Muslims basing on
    religious and ethnic diversity for they have been able to set up
    Rakhine hostility towards Muslims.
  • The
    Burmans can judge between them two to settle their disputes. That’s
    what the Burmanization aims at.
Do
you think that the government will easily stop the current apartheid?