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Rohingya are not ‘Bengalis’: Abu Tahay

Abu Tahay, is a Rohingya Politician with the Chairman of Union Nationals Development Party in Myanmar. (Photo: Vitri Angreni)

By Vitri Angreni

Myanmar’s national government has reportedly drafted a plan that will give members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority a choice: accept ethnic reclassification as ‘Bengalis and the prospect of citizenship, or be detained.

Many Rohingya lost documents in the widespread violence, or have previously refused to register as “Bengalis” because they say the term implies they are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya already live in apartheid-like conditions in western Rakhine after deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

Abu Tahay, is a Rohingya Politician with the Chairman of Union Nationals Development Party in Myanmar.

He is visiting Jakarta and explained to Vitri Angreni why they reject the plan.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Ethnicity identification is up to the community. It is the right of the Rohingya people to identify them selves as Rohingya. The governments can not impose restrictions on them to rename their identity to Bengalis.  Rohingya will not accept the government imposing this.  Rohingyas are different from Benggali, Chittagongnians and Chakma. Rohingya people belong to Myanmar, Rohinyga people belong to the Arakan state. They are an indigenous race before the British came their present was recorded in the Arakani State during the British time in a 1826 report and in the 1872, 1911 and 1941 reports. Rohingya are an indigenous race of Myanmar. And after independence, Rohingya was recognized as ethnic group until 1965.

Q.  So you don’t think the government’s solution is the right one—So what do you think the solution is?

“The solution and the sustainable solution is to restore the Rohingya ethnicity also to restore Rohingyas full citizenship rights. This is the only solution that is sustainable and will also establish peaceful coexistence among the diverse people of Myanmar.”

Q. What do you want countries like Indonesia — and other Asian nations to do to help resolve the conflict in Myanmar?

“Only 1.2 million Rohingya’s are living in Myanmar out of 4 million. The majority have fled abroad so this can make instability in the region not only in Myanmar. That’s why the Rohingya issue is not a local internal affair, this is an international issue.  So South East Asia nations who are in a position to persuade our government to resolve this issue quickly must do so.”

Q. Do you think countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia– have done enough– have they been hostile to Rohingya refugees? 

“This is not good enough; we need some assistant to make sure that they have the legal status of being a refugee in different countries.  Also they need to be provided access to the education and if possible let them work. This will benefit the region as well as the Rohingya refugee community.”  Myanmar’s national government has reportedly drafted a plan that will give members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority a choice: accept ethnic reclassification as ‘Bengalis and the prospect of citizenship, or be detained.


Many Rohingya lost documents in the widespread violence, or have previously refused to register as “Bengalis” because they say the term implies they are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya already live in apartheid-like conditions in western Rakhine after deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

Abu Tahay, is a Rohingya Politician with the Chairman of Union Nationals Development Party in Myanmar.

He is visiting Jakarta and explained to Vitri Angreni why they reject the plan.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Ethnicity identification is up to the community. It is the right of the Rohingya people to identify them selves as Rohingya. The governments can not impose restrictions on them to rename their identity to Bengalis.  Rohingya will not accept the government imposing this.  Rohingyas are different from Benggali, Chittagongnians and Chakma. Rohingya people belong to Myanmar, Rohinyga people belong to the Arakan state. They are an indigenous race before the British came their present was recorded in the Arakani State during the British time in a 1826 report and in the 1872, 1911 and 1941 reports. Rohingya are an indigenous race of Myanmar. And after independence, Rohingya was recognized as ethnic group until 1965.

Q.  So you don’t think the government’s solution is the right one—So what do you think the solution is?

“The solution and the sustainable solution is to restore the Rohingya ethnicity also to restore Rohingyas full citizenship rights. This is the only solution that is sustainable and will also establish peaceful coexistence among the diverse people of Myanmar.”

Q. What do you want countries like Indonesia — and other Asian nations to do to help resolve the conflict in Myanmar?

“Only 1.2 million Rohingya’s are living in Myanmar out of 4 million. The majority have fled abroad so this can make instability in the region not only in Myanmar. That’s why the Rohingya issue is not a local internal affair, this is an international issue.  So South East Asia nations who are in a position to persuade our government to resolve this issue quickly must do so.”

Q. Do you think countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia– have done enough– have they been hostile to Rohingya refugees? 

“This is not good enough; we need some assistant to make sure that they have the legal status of being a refugee in different countries.  Also they need to be provided access to the education and if possible let them work. This will benefit the region as well as the Rohingya refugee community.”  Myanmar’s national government has reportedly drafted a plan that will give members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority a choice: accept ethnic reclassification as ‘Bengalis and the prospect of citizenship, or be detained.


Many Rohingya lost documents in the widespread violence, or have previously refused to register as “Bengalis” because they say the term implies they are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya already live in apartheid-like conditions in western Rakhine after deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

Abu Tahay, is a Rohingya Politician with the Chairman of Union Nationals Development Party in Myanmar.

He is visiting Jakarta and explained to Vitri Angreni why they reject the plan.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Ethnicity identification is up to the community. It is the right of the Rohingya people to identify them selves as Rohingya. The governments can not impose restrictions on them to rename their identity to Bengalis.  Rohingya will not accept the government imposing this.  Rohingyas are different from Benggali, Chittagongnians and Chakma. Rohingya people belong to Myanmar, Rohinyga people belong to the Arakan state. They are an indigenous race before the British came their present was recorded in the Arakani State during the British time in a 1826 report and in the 1872, 1911 and 1941 reports. Rohingya are an indigenous race of Myanmar. And after independence, Rohingya was recognized as ethnic group until 1965.

Q.  So you don’t think the government’s solution is the right one—So what do you think the solution is?

“The solution and the sustainable solution is to restore the Rohingya ethnicity also to restore Rohingyas full citizenship rights. This is the only solution that is sustainable and will also establish peaceful coexistence among the diverse people of Myanmar.”

Q. What do you want countries like Indonesia — and other Asian nations to do to help resolve the conflict in Myanmar?

“Only 1.2 million Rohingya’s are living in Myanmar out of 4 million. The majority have fled abroad so this can make instability in the region not only in Myanmar. That’s why the Rohingya issue is not a local internal affair, this is an international issue.  So South East Asia nations who are in a position to persuade our government to resolve this issue quickly must do so.”

Q. Do you think countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia– have done enough– have they been hostile to Rohingya refugees? 

“This is not good enough; we need some assistant to make sure that they have the legal status of being a refugee in different countries.  Also they need to be provided access to the education and if possible let them work. This will benefit the region as well as the Rohingya refugee community.”

Source Portalkbr