BURMA’s (Myanmar) Religious Affairs and Culture Ministry is working on a treatise based on documents and chronologies written by historians aimed at proving the Rohingya community is not an indigenous group.
According to Bangkok Post, the ministry claimed that historical documents dating back to the British colonial era or the period before it does not mention the word “Rohingya”.
The ministry, in a Burmese-language statement posted on its Facebook page, alleges the term was first used in a report on Nov 20, 1948, by a Bengali Member of Parliament named Abdul Gafar who apparently wrote a fabricated story to the Burmese home affairs minister about a shipwreck.
The statement also claims that Kofi Annan, chairman of the Rakhine State Advisory Commission, had stated that there was no violence, genocide, and absolutely no Rohingya during his trip there on Dec 6 .
The ministry also alleged in the statement that people within the country and overseas have been trying to promote a “Rohingya agenda” and are intent on damaging Burma’s reputation as well as create instability within the country.
When the thesis is completed, it will be presented to the office of Burma’s President Htin Kyaw and State Counsellor Aung Sang Suu Kyi. Then upon approval, it will be published as a book and released for public consumption.
This is not the first time the Burmese government has denied the existence of the term “Rohingya”.
According to Eleven Myanmar, the Burmese government in May claimed the Rohingya are actually people from Bangladesh who were sent to Rakhine state after it was colonised by the British following the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824.
“They are large in number and have been called ‘Bengalis’. They were called Rohingyas under former prime minister U Nu to win their votes. It was illegal. The term Rohingya does not exist and we will not accept it,” the news website quoted Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as saying.
The Burmese government has long denied the Rohingya basic rights to citizenship, marriage, worship and education.
According to Reuters, aid workers said hundreds of Rohingya Muslims from Burma were forced to cross the border to Bangladesh in October to seek shelter from escalating violence in the north-west, which has left at least 86 people dead and displaced some 30,000.
However, the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation says at least 150 people died in the violence.
“The reason why the international news agencies and aid groups are not allowed to go there is because the military is trying to cover up what they are doing there, the killings and other things,” The Associated Press quoted Ko Ko Linn as saying.
“They are lying.”
The recent violence is the most serious bloodshed since hundreds were killed in communal clashes in Rakhine State in 2012.