The House of Rohingya

The Journey towards Myanmar Genocide

Myanmar's intent to destroy Rohingya ethnically, racially and religiously as a whole

Myanmar's intent to destroy Rohingya ethnically, racially and religiously as a whole

“ROHINGYA DID NOT COME TO BURMA, BUT BURMA CAME TO ROHINGYA.” Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University

1442

Kings with Muslim Names

“In the stone inscription from AD 1442, the kings were found to bear Muslim names. There is a very high probability that the people who lived in the Mayu region (to the east of Naaf River and to the west of Kaladan) were the Rohinjas.”

The late Dr Than Tun, Kalya Magazine, Rangoon, Professor of History at Mandalay University and World’s Authority on ancient Burma, p. 27.

1784

December

Fall of Arakan Kingdom

The independent Arakan Kingdom, now Rakhine State, was conquered and annexed into Burma [Myanmar] by Bamar King Bodawpaya on December 31, 1784. Thus, the Bamar ethnic majority has since been using ‘divide and rule’ policy and created the division between two sister communities, Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims who have peacefully co-existed for centuries.

1799

December

Natives of Arakan

“I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have been long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga [Rohingya], or natives of Arakan.”

Dr. Francis Buchanan, A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire, p. 237

1824

March

British Invasion of Burma begins in Arakan

Following the border clashes in Arakan between the forces of the British Empire and the Burmese Empire, the First Anglo-Burma War formally broke out on March 05, 1824. The British Empire invaded and colonised Burma.

1886

January

Becoming British Colony

Burma was completely annexed by the British Empire following the Third Anglo-Burma War on January 01, 1886, becoming a province of British-controlled India. The British governed Burma as a separate colony from 1937.

1942

December

Two Colonial Powers Divide Two Sister Communities

Japan invaded British-controlled Burma during the World War Two. The Rohingya community fought alongside the British while many Rakhine Buddhists sided the Japanese. It created the first ever inter-communal mass atrocities between Rohingya and Rakhine communities resulting in the massacre of over 100,000 Rohingya and around 2,000 Rakhine, and dividing and creating Arakan into the Rohingya-majority North and the Rakhine-majority South.

1947

April

First Ever General Election before Independence

Rohingya participated and elected in the first ever general election held shortly after the separation Burma from British India Raj and a year before its independence.

1948

January

Independence of Burma, Rohingya its First Citizens

Burma gained its independence, the new parliament passed the Union Citizenship Act in the dame year which recognises all citizens as equal including the Rohingya community and other minorities groups. In 1949, the government began to issue National Registration Cards too all citizens including the Rohingya people.

1951

November

Rohingya’s Self-Identification

“After the Mujahideen surrendered, (the) Rohingya leaders asked us not to call the Rohingya “Khaw Taw”, nor “Bengali”, nor Chittagonian Kalar (niggers), nor “Rakhine Muslims”. Instead they said their preferred and self-referential ethnic name was the Arabic word Rohingya.”

Brigadier Aung Gyi, Vice Chief of Staff of Burma Armed Forces Maungdaw, Myanmar

November

Rohingya recognised as Indigenous Race

“[Rohingya] Muslims of Arakan certainly belong to one of the indigenous races of Burma… In fact, there is no pure indigenous race in Burma; if they do not belong to indigenous races of Burma, we also cannot be taken as indigenous races of Burma.”

Sao Shwe Thaik, the First President of Burma

1952

April

Rohingya Woman, Trailblazer in Politics

Zurah Begum (also known as Aye Nyunt) was one of the first two women members of parliament that Burma elected in its first general election since gaining the Indepenendence from the British rule. She was elected from Maungdaw-2 constituency. She is the trailblazer in Burma’s politics. It has taken another 58 years to elect female legislators. Her husband Sultan Ahmed was also a member of parliament elected four times between 1947 and 1960 and served as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Minorities, Ministry of Relief and Resettlement and Ministry of Social and Religious Affairs.

1953

August

Rohingya become Equal Citizens

Rohingya became the citizens of Burma under the then-Union Citizenship Act of 1948. Rohingya from Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung and other 20 townships were issued with National Registration Cards under the 1951 “Residents of Burma Registration Act”.

1954

September

Rohingya recognised as Ethnic People

“Rohingya are one ethnic people living within the Union of Burma.”

U Nu, the First Prime Minister of Burma, National Radio Address

1959

November

Rohingya recognised as Equal Nationality

“The Rohingya has the equal status of nationality with Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Mon, Rakhine and Shan.”

U Ba Swe, the Second Prime Minister and minister of Defence of Burma

December

Rohingya at Nation’s best University

“This is to certify that ‘Rohingya University Rohingya Student Association’ is one of the registered association of the University of Rangoon for the Academic year of 1959-60.”

Dean of Students, Rangoon University

1961

May

Rohingya Cultural Programme on Nation’s Flagship TV

The country’s sole national broadcasting station, namely Burma Broadcasting Service (BBS), began its Rohingya Language Programme alongside other indigenous language services on 15 May 1961.

1962

March

Beginning of Burma’s Demise, Rohingya’s Destruction

Dictator Ne Win seized power in a coup d’etat on March 2, 1962, institutionalising the policies of persecution and slow-genocide against Rohingya, and declaring “I have to inform you, citizens of the Union that Armed Forces have taken over the responsibility and the task of keeping the country’s safety, owing to the greatly deteriorating conditions of the union.”

1964

December

Rohingya’s Livelihood

“Of the 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants of Mayu Border District 75% are Rohingya ethnic people who are Muslims. The rest are made up of Rakhine, Dai Nat, Myo, and Kamee. Generally, agriculture and fishing are their main economic activities.”

Myanmar Encyclopaedia, Volume 9, p. 90, Government Printing House, Rangoon

1965

October

Rohingya Cultural Suppression begins

General Ne Win’s Revolutionary Council regime ended Rohingya Language Programme on Burma Broadcasting Services (BBS) on 1 October 1965 after broadcasting more than four years.

1974

January

Removal of Rohingya Identities

General Ne Win enacted a new constitution under his one-party rule in January 03, 1974. In the same year, the Emergency Immigration Act that the parliament enacted, started to confiscate the National Registration Cards (NRC) from the Rohingya community.

1975

March

Sole ownership of Shared-home

General Ne Win granted statehood of Arakan in the name of “Rakhine State” attributing it to the Buddhist Rakhine only.

1978

February

First State-sponsored Military Campaign

Burma’s dictator General Ne Win launched “King Dragon Operation” against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State under the pretext of immigration check. It was the first centrally directed campaign of terror against the Rohingya with local Rakhine participation, which resulted in the exodus of estimated 230,000 fleeing into Bangladesh. Far Eastern Economic Review and other news outlets cried foul of General Ne Win’s attacks on the native Rohingya, calling them “Burma’s Brand of Apartheid”, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing as early as 1978.

July

Birth of Apartheid in Burma

“Burma’s brand of apartheid” – Far Eastern Economic Review, pp. 30-32

1982

October

Citizenship Law that renders Rohingya stateless

The inaugural Meeting of the Drafting Committee of the 1982 Citizenship Act took place at the residence of Dictator General Ne Win with Ne Win himself in the chair. The law primarily targets the Rohingya, without the specific mention of the word Rohingya, targeted and stripped them of their full citizenship Rights. General Ne Win said, “We are aware of their (the foreigners, namely Kala and Tayoke) penchant for making money by all means, and knowing this, how could we trust them in our organizations that decide the destiny of our country. We will therefore not give them full citizenships, or full rights.”

1985

March

Rohingya betrayed with Identity Cards

Under the 1982 Citizenship Act, the citizenship tasks were introduced requiring everyone to apply for new identification cards called Citizenship Scrutiny Cards and registrations of births. All Rohingya of 18 years old or over applied for the Citizenship Scrutiny Card. However, the military junta never issued the cards to any Rohingya despite promise made to them.

1988

August

Rohingya joins hands to overthrow Military Dictatorship

The nation-wide uprising against the military rule began spreading to Rakhine State including Maungdaw township. It was brutally crackdown by the military leading to killing and enforced disappearance of many prominent Rohingya leaders and activists.

1991

December

Second major Military Campaign that still haunts

The Pyi Thaya (Clean Nation) Operation in 1991 expelled more than 250,000 Rohingya to the neighbouring county, Bangladesh, with mass arrests, summary killings, rapes, forced labours, destruction of houses, religious buildings and properties, and land confiscations.

1992

July

Inception of Notorious Border Forces

The military junta created a special border security force for the Rohingya community, called NaSaKa comprised of around 1,200 immigration, police, intelligence and customs officers, who acted as the main enforcers of the state-sponsored discrimination and persecution against the community. With the unlimited power vested on them, the NaSaKa practised its notorious harassment, detainment, enforced-disappearance, arbitrary taxation, confiscation of properties, restrictions on movement, education, marriage and religious freedom.

1994

August

Rohingya in ancient Stone Inscriptions

“In the stone inscription from AD 1442, the kings were found to bear Muslim names. There is a very high probability that the people who lived in the Mayu region (to the east of Naaf River and to the west of Kaladan) were the Rohinjas.”

The late Dr Than Tun, Kalya Magazine, Rangoon, Professor of History at Mandalay University and World’s Authority on ancient Burma, p. 27.

1996

May

Forced Ethnic reclassification as ‘Bengali’

The status of the Rohingya community has been changed on the family registration (Family Household Census) from Rohingya to Islam, and then to “Bengali”.

2001

February

Beginning of Ban of Higher Education for Rohingya

Following the state-sanctioned violence against the Rohingya community in Sittwe, the capital city of Rakhine State, the NaSaKa security forces placed strict travel restrictions on the community. The Rohingya students who were studying at University of Sittwe were forced to return to their respective towns. A complete inter-state travel ban was declared, thus preventing the Rohingya students attending universities. A temporary travel permit “Form 4” is issued to the members of the Rohingya community who want to visit family and relatives within a same township.

2002

February

White Cards that show stains of Erasure of a People’s Identity

The military junta issued Temporary Resident Cards (also known as White Cards) to the Rohingya community with the promise to issue them National Scrutiny Cards (Pink Cards). The White Cards identified Rohingya as “Bengali”.

2005

June

Two-Child Policy for Rohingya ONLY

The NaSaKa security forces and the regional authorities started the strict marriage ban and birth-control with hefty find or jail terms if broken.

2010

June

Irish Centre for Human Rights’ Report Findings 13 Years ago

“There is a reliable body of evidence of acts constituting a widespread or systematic attack against the Rohingya civilian population in North Arakan State. These appear to satisfy the requirements under international law and confirm the perpetration of crimes against humanity. For the suffering of the Rohingya community to be brought to an end, swift and effective action is necessary.”

Crimes Against Humanity in Western Burma: the Situation of the Rohingyas, Irish Centre for Human Rights

2012

June

State-wide removal of Rohingya, Life in Gettos

The anti-Rohingya racists launched a premeditated campaign of direct killings of the Rohingya after 10 Muslim pilgrims from central Myanmar were hacked to death in Taung Goke town by an organized mob on 3 June 2012. It also displaced more than 120,000 Rohingya into Internally Displaced Persons [IDP] Camps denying education, healthcare, freedom of movement and return to the places of origin. Rohingya outside the camps are also completely barred from pursuing university education since June 2012. Primary to high school education provided to the remaining Rohingya in ghettos is extremely limited, students often face racial discrimination and segregation in classes.

November

Obama uttering Prohibited word ‘Rohingya’ in Nation’s Captial

“For too long, the people of this state (Rakhine or Arakan), including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution. But there is no excuse for violence against innocent people. And the Rohingya hold themselves — hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.”

Barack Obama, US President, University of Yangon, Myanmar

2013

January

Monks losing Peace, sowing seeds of Hate

Ma Ba Tha (Association for the Protection of Race and Religion) was formed by ultra-nationalist monks which openly called for the removal of the Rohingya community as a whole from the country by the use of force while spreading anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya propaganda with the supports of the military and the military-back government. Two years later in 2015, the government passed Race and Religion Laws which ban interfaith marriage, religious conversation, and childbearing, especially targeted to the Rohingya community.

July

One Criminal Force replaced Another

On 12 July 2013, President Thein Sein abolished NaSaKa (the Border Security Force). Known for its notorious and abusive nature towards Rohingya in Rakhine State, NaSaKa was created in 1992 with more than 1200 immigration, intelligent and custom officers who constantly targeted Rohingyas’ freedom of movement, with harassments, arrests, tortures, arbitrary taxation and properties confiscations.

August

Call to revise Citizenship Law

“I call upon the Government, and Parliament, urgently to review and revise the 1982 Citizenship Law, to bring it in line with international human rights norms. I call for a genuinely independent analysis of the Rohingya people’s history in Burma, so that misunderstandings can be corrected, misinformation countered and prejudices addressed…”

Rt Hon. John Bercow, Speaker of the British House of Commons, University of Yangon, Myanmar

August

Offensive word that Burma repeatedly enforces on Rohingya

“The Rohingya regard it as deeply offensive to be called ‘Bengalis’ which they regard it as basically we are saying ‘We don’t want you here. Get out!’….”

Rt. Hon. John Bercow with Maung Zarni

2014

March

EU funds Census that excludes Rohingya

The military-back government conducted the nation-wide census for the first time in 30 years which excluded the Rohingya community entirely.

November

Slow Genocide

“(Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya) is a slow genocide. It’s not like Rwanda. It’s not like Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia. It’s not even like what exactly happened in Nazi Germany…. It is institutionalized killing.”

Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Harvard University

November

Word that UN officially use

“The affected population – referred to as Bengalis by the government of Myanmar but known as Rohingya in the United Nations and in much of the international community – the United Nations uses that word based on the rights of minorities. I also urge the authorities to avoid measures that could entrench the current segregation between communities….”

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, Naypyidaw, Myanmar

2015

May

Echoes of Nazi Genocide

“In Aung Mingalar, I heard the echoes of my childhood. You see, in 1944, as a Jew in Budapest, I too was a Rohingya. Much like the Jewish ghettos set up by Nazis around Eastern Europe during World War II, Aung Mingalar has become the involuntary home to thousands of families who once had access to health care, education and employment. Now, they are forced to remain segregated in a state of abject deprivation. The parallels to the Nazi genocide are alarming.”

George Soros, Oslo Conference on the Rohingya, Norwegian Nobel Institute

May

Textbook Case of Genocide

“What Rohingyas are facing is a textbook case of genocide in which an entire indigenous community is being systematically wiped out by the Burmese government.”

7 Nobel Peace Laureates (Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ibadi, Leymah Ghowee), Oslo Conference on the Rohingya, (Oslo, Norway

November

Disenfranchised First time in 78 Years

The entire Rohingya population is disenfranchised, and Rohingya representatives were barred from running in General Elections in 2015 for the first time in the history of Burma despite electing Rohingya members of parliaments in every election ever taken place. It was preceded by the invalidation of the White Cards that the Rohingya community was forced to hold.

2016

April

Lady’s wishes come true

Aung San Suu Kyi became the State Counsellor (similar to the position of Prime Minister), thus was considered as the de-facto head of the country.

October

Pretext for Final Nail in Coffin for Rohingya’s Destruction

Myanmar military launched the coordinated “Clearance Operations” against Rohingya civilians in northern Maungdaw, Rakhine State on October 9, 2016. The military committed widespread crimes against humanity on Rohingya population deploying the scorched-earth tactics which resulted in killing of hundreds of Rohingya civilians, commanding rapes and arson attacks, destroying at least a hundred villages and forcing nearly 87,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh refugee camps.

2017

March

UN’s Body finds Gravest Crimes

The United Nations Human Rights Council established the Independent International Fact Finding Mission (IIFFM) to investigate human rights abuses by the military and the security forces against the Rohingya community. It published two reports in 2018 and 2018 which found reasonable grounds that the government and the military committed “war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Rohingya”.

August

Final Nail in Coffin, or ‘Unfinished business’ for current Dictator

On the pretext of clashes with the dozens of Rohingya militants, Myanmar military responded with the state-sanctioned campaign of genocide against the entire Rohingya population in northern Rakhine State on August 25, 2017. More than 12,000 Rohingya civilians including children, women and elderly persons were killed, rape as a weapon was commanded against hundreds of Rohingya women, thousands of Rohingya men were arbitrary detained and forced into disappearance, over 370 villages were razed to the ground in the scorched-earth tactics, and over 710,000 Rohingya were expelled from their ancestral land into Bangladesh during the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

2018

September

First Nation to declare gravest crimes as ‘Genocide’

Canadian legislators unanimously voted to declare crimes committed against the Rohingya community by the Burmese military to be “genocide”.

November

Burma brought to World’s Court

The Gambia filed the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the violation of the Genocide Convention. Aung San Suu Kyi, the then-head-of state personally defended the military to boost her NLD party’s prospects in the general election in November 2020. The same military later staged the coup on February 01, 2021 denying her party to begin the new term after the landslide election in 2020 and imprisoning her along with most of the members of her party.

2020

January

Perpetrators ignore UN Provisional Measures

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) imposed provisional measures on Burma to “prevent all genocidal acts against the Rohingya, to ensure the military and other security forces do not commit acts of genocide, and to take steps to preserve evidence related to the case”.

September

Canada, Dutch join ‘tiny’ country from Africa at World Court

Canada and the Netherlands formally joined The Gambia’s legal bid to hold Burma accountable over the allegations of genocide against the Rohingya community.

2021

February

Myanmar coup d’état

Senior general Min Aung Hlaing staged the coup desposing the National League for Democracy (NLD) government and imprisoning many of its members including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

2022

March

US declares ‘Genocide’

The United States concluded and declared the crimes against humanity against the Rohingya community committed by the Burmese military “genocide”.

2023

November

More Nations join at World’s Court

Denmark, France, Germany and the UK joined in filing a “declaration of intervention in the case” that The Gambia filed against Burma on the allegations of Genocide.

2024

February

Forced Military Conscription

After activating the People’s Military Service Law in February, the military starts forcibly conscripting Rohingya youths and men who are used as “human sheild” in the frontline against Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State.

May

Fall of Second-largest Rohingya Town

On May 17, 2024, the Arakan Army (AA) started burning down thousands of Rohingya houses in the second-largest Rohingya-majority township Buthidaung at night causing the mass displacement of nearly 200,000 Rohingya civilians.