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Rohingya History: Myth and Reality

 Category: Culture, History  Publisher: Zul Nurain  Published: 29 December 2009  Tags: ArakanNatives of ArakanRohingyaRohingya Ethnicity |  Download


During the last few years, I came across some historical works on the Rohingya history by some native Rohingyas and some illustrious history scholars such as Martin Smith and Professor Dr. than Tun. The works of native writers include: an attempt to solve the differences of opinions on Rohingya history, the hidden chapters of Arakan history, Wesali and its people, Rationale to be considered by Rohingya critics – all in Burmese and Towards understanding Arakan history, Rudiments of Arakan history – in English. Some of these works are already on a website, based in Japan. One of the above treatises: The Hidden Chapters of Arakan History was found to be pirated by one pseudo historian, Zaw Min Htut in Japan who produced and distributed it widely with his own name as the writer: An insult to the original author.

But the problem is some readers and viewers of above works came on heel to criticize and condemn those works as baseless, false and fabricated. This censorious group collected a lot of critical articles and published it in Japan in 2003. The name of their critique is Criticism on Rohingya’s false history.

As far as my historical knowledge concerned my study of those works informs me that those are not Esoof Fables and make believe. They are well referenced, better documented with reliable source materials. The critics are not confined to criticizing natives, they boldly refute what Dr. Than Tun and Martin Smith write: These two are not alley writers but highly respected history scholars. Dr. Than Tun’s comment on Rohingya’s historicity is a bold, brave as well as a benevolent deed. Everyone should note the tight and risky atmosphere in which he shed light on Rohingya history. His remark on Muslim rulers in north Arakan and the relativity of present day Rohingya
with them is not an imagination. He documented his remarks with “Ava” age inscription with their registration numbers. So we must say all above works had already given a vindication for Rohingya and their history.

Constructive comments and criticism always help a writer to review and improve his works. Actually history is always an endless blending of facts and imagination. But I find those treatises above contain less imagination compared the facts there in which are drawn from the works of authentic writers whose works based principally on primary source materials. The
writer’s comments and opinion makings were seen minimized. Perhaps it is just to avoid refutation and criticism from Rohingya’s opponents. Thus the native’s works highlight on the facts of history; judgment on those is left for the readers and viewers to make for themselves.

Experiences have shown it is traditional and habitual to this censorious group to come on heel to decry any historical documents that shed light on Rohingya’s historical background. The fact is they have an inculcated mindset and are overwhelmed by traditional chauvinism. If actually won’t be an exaggeration if I say they are suffering from Rohingya Phobia. There is no therapy for it unless they change their outworn ideas. The point not to forget is, on our side there are a lot of issues in Rakhine version of Arakan history that we can disprove with facts and figures. So the censorious readers and viewers of Rohingya historical works should think over if you point out one finger to others, another four will stand against you. One living in glass house should not throw stones on others. Rakhine version of Arakan history is embellished with legends, lutes and makes believe. But we are not going to turn over all those in the interest of maintaining unity among coursing. We cautiously avoid to comment on the misinterpretation of Arakan history by some native historians and some amateur writers just to refrain from rift and friction among us. But now due to their (the critics) ridiculous and irrational criticism of above works I have to take this steps. The critics’ maybe historians, professional or amateur.

But they are biased and blindfolded by ultra-nationalistic tendency. Their decry is not based on reality and historical facts but on their chaurinism and malevolence against Rohingya. Hence my task now is to give a precise and comprehensive explanation of above censorious critique.

The author of ‘’Towards Understanding Arakan’s History: Rudiments of Arakan history said his book was overseen thoroughly by many senior Burmese historians who include one of the most respected history Professor Dr. Than Tun, he said Dr. Than Tun had edited his treatise and had given an invaluable forwarding too. Here the complementation of Dr. Than Tun alone is sufficient, I think, for the critics to change their mind and accept reality of Arakan history.

Refutation and decry on Rohingya history of momentum when foreign historians and international media began to shed light on the historicity of Rohingya, especially immediately after the Rihingya refugee crisis in 1991.

Remarkable critics in this context are U Khin Maung Win of New York whose articles appeared in “Far Eastern Economics Review” July issue 1991 and U Khin Maung Saw of Hamburg University who read a paper on this subject.(Rohingya History) in a conference on Myanmar affairs in 1993. Their works were full of illusions not based on real facts and authentic references. What they write are based on hear and say and traditional Rakhine Legends, tales and delusions. U Khin Maung Saw’s writing is of very much bigotry.

He ignored the works of illustrious scholars. He ridiculously criticized Martin Smith, a Myanmar specialist, who wrote same articles shedding light on Rohingya’s historical background. Again when Professor Dr. Than Tun referring to Myanmar stone inscriptions writes. “There were Muslim rulers in north Arakan, who were very friendly with “Avak”, are (Myanmar King). Perhaps, it was Bengal turned Islam (12th century A.D). The present day Rohingya of Mayyu may be descendents of those early Muslims, criticism of his articles began to grow louder. (Dr. Than Tun’s remark see “Kliya magazine, August, 1994”, “North Arakan”. The final word of his critics is what Dr. Than Tun writes in against traditional Rakhine historical conception (see. Criticism of Rohingya’s false history, Japan, 2003). The so called traditional concept cannot enclose the discovery of history.

History is a subject, the more we study, the more we discover. There are a lot of many things that are not yet discovered by historians. Denying latest finding in the name of traditional concept is neither logical nor scientific. What we must accept is the latest discovery of Arakan history by prominent, illustrious historians such as Dr. Than Tun, Martin Smith, Dr. Pamela Gutman, Dr. J.L.Lieder of France and Dr. S.B Kunango of Bangladesh is the only thing that can solve the lifelong imbroglio of Arakan history. We can see a sea of difference between traditional version of history and what the above scholars bring into light virulence against a race should not blind us. We must reconcile to logic and reasons.

To accept the true non-historical work is free of or void of criticism. These may be various dimension of a subject in question. But decry and criticism on the above works of Rohingya are virtually ridiculous and aggressive just only because this works above unveil longtime deliberately hidden chapters of Arakan history. These critics are not courageous enough to accept the reality of history. They are misted by writers of older generations who knowingly adulterated and misinterpreted Arakan history. Facts were mixed with legends and delusion, some facts were prevaricated just to suit Rakhine taste and obliterate Rohingya from historical landscape of Arakan. This inculcated mind set of theirs is difficult to fade away.