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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?