The Rohingya people: perhaps the most persecuted indigenous group in the world !
The Rohingya people (Ruáingga /ɹuájŋɡa/, Burmese: ရိုဟင်ဂျာ rui hang gya /ɹòhɪ̀ɴɡjà/, Bengali: রোহিঙ্গা Rohingga /ɹohiŋɡa/) are an ethnic group who practice Islam and speak Rohingya, an Indo-European language of the Eastern Indic branch, closely related to Chittagonian and more distantly to Bengali. The origin of this group of people is disputed with some saying they are indigenous to the state of Rakhine (also known as Arakan, or Rohang in the Rohingya language) in Burma and others contending that they are Muslim migrants who originated in Bengal, latterly Bangladesh, and migrated to Burma during the period of British rule.
The Rohingya are linguistically related to the Indo-Aryan peoples of India and Bangladesh (as opposed to the mainly Sino-Tibetan languages of Burma). As of 2012, 800,000 Rohingya live in Burma. According to the United Nations, they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Many Rohingya have fled to ghettos and refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh, and to areas along the Thai-Burma border. The Rohingya have been in the news in the wake of the 2012 Rakhine State riots.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Language
- 3 History
- 4 Religion
- 5 Human rights violations and refugees
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The term "Rohingya" comes from Rohang, the Rohingya word for the state of Arakan, from where the Rohingya originate. Though some Rohingya historians, like Khalilur Rahma, contend that the term Rohingya may be derived from the Arabic word Rahma meaning 'mercy', this is unlikely. They trace the term back to a shipwreck in the 8th century CE. According to them, after the Arab ship wrecked near Ramree Island, Arab traders were ordered to be executed by the Arakanese king. Then, they shouted in their language, 'Rahma'. Hence, these people were called 'Raham'. Gradually it changed from Raham to Rhohang and finally to Rohingyas.
The claim was disputed by Jahiruddin Ahmed and Nazir Ahmed, former president and Secretary of the Arakan Muslim Conference respectively. They argued that shipwreck Muslims are currently called 'Thambu Kya' Muslims, and currently reside along the Arakan sea shore. If the term Rohingya was indeed derived from that group of Muslims, "Thambu Kyas" would have been the first group to be known as Rohingyas. According to them, Rohingyas were descendants of inhabitants of Ruha inAfghanistan. Another historian, MA Chowdhury argued that among the Muslim populations in Myanmar, the term 'Mrohaung' (Old Arakanese Kingdom) was corrupted to Rohang. And thus inhabitants of the region are called Rohingya.
Burmese historians such as Khin Maung Saw have claimed that the term 'Rohingya' was unknown before the 1950s. Another historian, Dr Maung Maung, notes that the word Rohingya is not used in the 1824 census, conducted by the British. Historian Aye Chan from Kanda University of International Studies states that the term Rohingya was created by descendants of Bengalis in the 1950s who migrated into Arakan during colonial times. He also holds that the term cannot be found in any historical source in any language before the 1950s. However, he accepts that Muslim communities have lived in Arakan for centuries, many of whom settled in the region during the Kingdom of Mrauk U, when Arakan enjoyed strong political, military and trade relations with the Bengal Sultanate.
Arakan history expert Dr Jacques P. Leider points out that the term Rooinga was in fact used in a late 18th century report published by the British Francis Buchanan-Hamilton. In his 1799 article “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire,” Buchanan-Hamilton stated: "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 long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan." Leider also adds that the etymology of the word "does not say anything about politics." He adds that "You use this term for yourself as a political label to give yourself identity in the 20th century. Now how is this term used since the 1950s? It is clear that people who use it want to give this identity to the community that live there."
Contradicting this opinion, somewhat, is Professor Aye Chan, an expert in Burmese linguistic and cultural history employed at Kanda University of International Studies. Aye Chan has published work dating from 2003 on the Muslim Community in Rakhine State. He asserts that there has never been a nation of Rohingya people adding that, "in the chronicles of Myanmar, there never were Rohingya people." He has put forward the view that the term "Rohingya" was first coined in 1951 by a man named Abu Gaffer writing for the "Guardian" daily newspaper in Rangoon. Further, Professor Aye Chan claims that it was Abu Gaffer who first claimed that the Muslims residing in Buthitaung and Maungtaw townships "were not the illegal migrants sneaking from the other country, but the descendants of Arabs from the Middle East who survived a ship wreck in the sea and settled down by marrying the local Rakhine women." Aye Chan dismisses this story as a fabrication without any reliable evidence to support it.
Citing Jacques Leider, Professor Aye Chan states that, "I and French historian Jacques Leider had earlier disproved this theory about the shipwrecked. There was no solid, firm evidence of the shipwreck. We historians [should] uphold primary source of evidence. The secondary sources were not reliable and [they] contained doubtful factors. Moreover, there may be conspiracy and hidden agenda."
The Rohingya language is the modern written language of the Rohingya people of Arakan (Rakhine) State of Burma (Myanmar). It comes from the Indo-Aryan sub-branch of the greater Indo-European language family and is closely related to the Chittagonian language spoken in the southernmost part of Bangladesh bordering Burma. While both Rohingya and Chittagonian are related to Bengali, they are not mutually intelligible with the latter, despite what is often proposed in the Burmese national narrative. Rohingya scholars have successfully written the Rohingya language in various scripts including Arabic, Hanifi, Urdu, Roman, and Burmese, where Hanifi is a newly developed alphabet derived from Arabic with the addition of four characters from Latin and Burmese.
More recently, a Latin alphabet has been developed, using all 26 English letters A to Z and two additional Latin letters Ç (for retroflex R) and Ñ (for nasal sound). To accurately represent Rohingya phonology, it also uses five accented vowels (áéíóú). It has been recognised by ISO with ISO 639-3 "rhg" code.
Muslim settlements have existed in Arakan since the arrival of Arabs there in the 8th century CE. The direct descendants of Arab settlers are believed to live in central Arakan near Mrauk-U and Kyauktawtownships, rather than the Mayu frontier area (near Chittagong Division, Bangladesh), where the majority of Rohingya are populated.
Kingdom of Mrauk U
Early evidence of Bengali Muslim settlements in Arakan date back to the time of King Narameikhla (1430–1434) of the Kingdom of Mrauk U. After 24 years of exile in Bengal, he regained control of the Arakanese throne in 1430 with military assistance from the Sultanate of Bengal. The Bengalis who came with him formed their own settlements in the region.
Narameikhla ceded some territory to the Sultan of Bengal and recognised his sovereignty over the areas. In recognition of his kingdom's vassal status, the kings of Arakan received Islamic titles and used the Bengali Islamic coinage within the kingdom. Narameikhla minted his own coins with Burmese characters on one side and Persian characters on the other. Arakan's vassalage to Bengal was brief. After Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah's death in 1433, Narameikhla's successors repaid Bengal by occupying Ramu in 1437 and Chittagong in 1459. Arakan would hold Chittagong until 1666.
Even after gaining independence from the Sultans of Bengal, the Arakanese kings continued the custom of maintaining Muslim titles. The Buddhist kings compared themselves to Sultans and fashioned themselves after Mughal rulers. They also continued to employ Muslims in prestigious positions within the royal administration. The Bengali Muslim population increased in the 17th century, as they were employed in a variety of workforces in Arakan. Some of them worked as Bengali, Persian and Arabic scribes in the Arakanese courts, which, despite remaining mostly Buddhist, adopted Islamic fashions from the neighbouring Sultanate of Bengal. The Kamein/Kaman, who are regarded as one of the official ethnic groups of Burma, are descended from these Muslims.
Following the Burmese conquest of Arakan in 1785, as many as 35,000 Arakanese people fled to the neighbouring Chittagong region of British Bengal in 1799 to escape Burmese persecution and to seek protection from British India. The Burmese rulers executed thousands of Arakanese men and deported a considerable portion of the Arakanese population to central Burma, leaving Arakan as a scarcely populated area by the time the British occupied it.
According to an article on the "Burma Empire" published by the British Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in 1799, "the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan," "call themselves Rooinga, or natives ofArakan." Sir Henry Yule saw many Muslims serving as eunuchs in Konbaung Dynasty Burma while on a diplomatic mission there. These Muslim eunuchs came from Arakan.
British colonial rule
British policy encouraged Bengali inhabitants from adjacent regions to migrate into the then lightly populated and fertile valleys of Arakan as agriculturalists. The East India Company extended the Bengal administration to Arakan, thus there was no international boundary between Bengal and Arakan, and no restrictions on migration between the regions. In the early 19th century, thousands of Bengalis from the Chittagong region settled in Arakan seeking work. In addition, thousands of Rakhine people from Arakan also settled in Bengal.
Ten members of Congress are urging the Washington Redskins to change their name because it is offensive to many Native Americans. The representatives said Tuesday they've sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins sponsor FedEx and the other 31 NFL franchises. The letter to Snyder says that ''Native Americans throughout the country consider the 'R-word' a racial, derogatory slur akin to the 'N-word' among African Americans or the 'W-word' among Latinos.''
Here’s what A Tribe Called Red remembers about last Thanksgiving: A swarm of beery bros in RGIII jerseys wobbling down U Street, trying to keep Grandma’s pumpkin pie from making an encore on the sidewalk. On a national holiday celebrating hearth and harvest, the Washington Redskins had just defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 38-31. Inside U Street Music Hall, the Canadian DJ trio were about to throw a much different kind of party, spinning dance tracks that meshed traditional powwow music with bullish digital bass. Out on the dance floor, at least a dozen wore burgundy and gold. But nobody in the DJ booth grabbed the microphone to trash Dan Snyder.
Leaders of the Crow Indian Tribe have reached a lease agreement with a Washington state company seeking to drill for oil on the tribe's Montana reservation. Crow representatives and Spokane-based Blue Water Petroleum LLC announced the deal Tuesday. The company wants to tap a reserve of heavy oil, a type of crude that Blue Water says requires an injection of steam to be extracted.
For more than a century, the museum has exhibited assorted limbs, bones, tubercular lungs and fetuses, all in the name of science and enlightenment. Yet lately the curators are re-evaluating the principles that govern their displays as they confront a growing debate over what cultural organizations should be doing to preserve the dignity of the dead. Many of the world’s grand museums are hearing increasing demands for the return of human remains from former colonies or conquered peoples. Some are giving back bones and skulls that were once viewed as exotic trinkets and were traded by native peoples for calico or plundered in the late 1800s by scientists exploring racial differences.
A Wyoming inmate is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, claiming agency officials improperly delayed for years sending him eagle feathers he needed for Native American religious purposes. Andrew John Yellowbear, Jr., a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, is serving a life sentence in the beating death of his 22-month-old daughter in 2004.
When Congress enacted the across-the board budget cuts known as the sequester in March, they cut $60 million for American Indian schools across the country. Since people living on reservations don't pay state property taxes, the schools heavily depend on federal aid. For the Navajo Nation that means larger class sizes, fewer school buses and putting off building repairs.
Native Americans, including American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, serve at a higher rate in the U.S. Armed Forces that any other group and have served in all of the nation’s wars since the Revolutionary War honorably and courageously. Twenty-eight Natives have won the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration. The Navajo, Comanche, Choctaw, Tlingit and other Native nations created codes that enemies couldn’t break, turning the tide in both world wars. And yet, among all the memorials and monuments on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., there is not one that recognizes the contributions of Native warriors. But that, hopefully, will soon change. On May 23, Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced a bill, S. 1046, Native American Veterans’ Memorial Amendments Act of 2013, that would facilitate the construction of a Native American Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), and Jon Tester (D-Montana) are original co-sponsors.
- Ecuador’s plan to sell over a third of its pristine Amazonian rain-forest to Chinese oil industrialists has been met with a heartbreaking turn of events. Local tribes who inhabit the region have vowed to give their lives in defense of the sacred jungles they call home. Ecuador’s jungles are among the most bio-diverse on the planet, and are home to 1/10 of Earth’s species. In a desperate attempt to finance the nation’s commercial development, they have agreed to sell over 8,000,000 acres to Chinese oil companies — a portion roughly the size of Belgium or Maryland. Whether the money gained from the devastation of the rain-forest will end up actually serving the country’s long-term interests is open to debate, especially considering the region’s notoriety for political disarray. In 2007, Ecuador offered to guarantee the preservation of the rain-forest by leaving the estimated 850 million barrels of oil beneath the jungle floor untouched, in exchange for $3.5 billion — half the revenue expected to be generated by drilling. In theory, the international community could have united to pay Ecuador’s ransom, avoided an added 400 million metric tons of carbon emissions, and assured the Amazon’s beauty for generations to come. Unfortunately, after the 2008 economic collapse few politicians were eager to sell eco-conservation as a priority issue, and by 2012, only $200 million had been pledged.The apathy of most nations speaks volumes, and their own natural settings haven’t been saved from oil spills and fracking chemical leaks. To some degree, Ecuador cannot be blamed for wanting to move forward with its own industrialization, but its last remaining opposition is a determined indigenous population that considers the jungle their sacred home — and refuses to see it violated without a vicious fight. The battle is between a desperate and ambitious government, indebted to massive Chinese development loans, and the local tribes who cannot produce any paperwork proving their centuries old claim of ownership on the land. The passionate naturalists embody the very environment that is being sacrificed for the sake of industrial progress, and are willing to give their lives in its defense. Capital is often made by the privatization of the commons to extract wealth, and this conflict has manifested in the region before. In 2009, violence between Amazonian Indians and police in Peru over rain-forest mining rights resulted in several deaths. Mountain worshipping tribes in India have faced their own devastation by encroaching mining companies.Even Brazil’s plan to build the destructive Belo Monte dam was met with an outcry of support for the indigenous people — embodied by the famous picture of a crying Chief Raoni. While social media, international awareness and financial support play their part — the best hope these tribes have to sustain their homeland is to unite in its defense. Indigenous tribes account for nearly 25% of Ecuador’s population, and they are growing increasingly politically aware and active. Their uprising in the 1990s, gave them a political voice and mirrors the civil rights movements scattered throughout the histories of many other countries. While we fill movie theaters to cheer ten feet tall blue aliens, leading a vengeful stampede of animals against violent industrialists on distant planets — our own natural settings are being eradicated every day to serve our never ending addiction to fossil fuels. Facebook likes and online petitions aside, there is only so much an average citizen can accomplish. We live in an era of unprecedented wealth disparity, echoing the pre-revolution monarchies and fiefdoms of our past. Those few who have hoarded billions in wealth must prove they deserve the positions of power they hold — not by successfully accumulating their fortunes, but by investing in humanity’s future and stewarding the preservation of our common environments. If industry leaders aren’t at the forefront of developing energy alternatives, it becomes hard see their destructive ambitions as anything short of insatiable, self-serving greed.
Just nine days after the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board heard a case brought by Amanda Blackhorse, Navajo, and five other young Natives seeking to eliminate the Washington, D.C.'s NFL team's tradmark of the term redskins, House legislators have introduced a bill that would prohibit the use. This indicates a signifcant movement, as the debate over the NFL team's name expands from the court of public opinion and the U.S. legal system to Capitol Hill.
Delegate Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) has authored the Non-Disparagement of American Indians in Trademark Registrations Act of 2013, which would cancel all existing federal trademarks using “Redskins” to refer to Native Americans and prohibit future trademarks as well. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) — a critic of the team’s name — is an original co-sponsor, along with Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona) and Karen Bass (D-California).
As the Hill.com notes, the team has not publicly commented on challenges to the Redskins trademark, but last month began posting articles to the team website that highlighting high schools that also use the moniker. This bizarre move seems to be backfiring, though, as students are leading the move away from using the racist nickname, including at Cooperstown High School in New York.
Click here to read the full text of the bill and to track its progress in Congress.
Leaders from 11 Native American tribes stormed out of a meeting with US federal officials in Rapid City, South Dakota, to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which they say will lead to ‘environmental genocide.’
Native Americans are opposed to the 1,179-mile (1,897km) Keystone XL project - a system to transport tar sands oil from Canada and the northern United States to refineries in Texas - for various reasons, including potential irreversible damage to sacred sites, pollution, and water contamination.
Although the planned pipeline would not pass directly through any Native American reservation, tribes in proximity to the proposed system say it will violate their traditional lands and that the environmental risks of the project are simply too great.
Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, the company that hopes to build the pipeline, has promised in the past that Keystone XL will be “the safest pipeline ever built.”
The Indian groups, as well as other activist organizations, doubt the claim, saying the risks involved in the project are too high.
In an effort to ease their concerns, officials from the Department of State agreed to meet with tribal leaders on Thursday in the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City, Michigan.
Before the talks could begin, however, tribal leaders walked out, angered that the government had sent what they considered low-level representatives.
In a press conference following the walkout, tribal leaders took turns criticizing the project, as well as the Obama administration.
"I will only meet with President Obama," Bryan Brewer, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, told the Rapid City Journal.
Others mentioned environmental concerns with the proposed pipeline, which echo the concern of environmental groups across the country.
Casey Camp-Horinek, an elder with the Southern Ponca Tribe based in Oklahoma, compared the pipeline and other environmental damage to the historical events that had decimated her people during European colonization.
"We find ourselves victims of another form of genocide, and it's environmental genocide, and it's caused by the extractive industries," she said.
Charles LoneChief, vice president of the Pawnee Business Council, headquartered in Oklahoma, said the public was misinformed about the pipeline's environmental risks.
Unlike a traditional crude oil pipeline, Keystone XL will pump oil that is collected from tar sands. To turn this substance into a transportable liquid, oil companies must add chemicals that environmental groups warn are highly toxic.
"That gets into our waterways, our water tables, our aquifers, then we have problems," LoneChief said.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that the Keystone XL pipeline will increase annual US carbon pollution emissions by up to 27.6 million metric tons – the impact of adding nearly 6 million cars on the road, according to the Environment News Service.
Robin LeBeau, a council representative for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe based in South Dakota, pledged to protest against any construction, even if that meant standing in front of bulldozers.
"What the State Department, what President Obama needs to hear from us, is that we are going to be taking direct action," she said.
I believe this is going to be one of the biggest battles we are ever going to have, LeBeau added.
This is not the first time that Native American groups have spoken out on the project.
Leaders from ten Canadian and US indigenous groups gathered in Ottawa, Ontario in March to protest the construction of pipelines.
“Tar sands pipelines will not pass through [our] collective territories under any conditions or circumstances,” the tribes said at a press conference.
Obamacare to penalize nearly half a million Native Americanshttp://rt.com/usa/obamacare-native-american-insurance-333/
Native Americans are entitled to free and subsidized medical care at some federally-funded health clinics, but 'Obamacare' will soon force many of them to buy insurance or else face hefty fines if they are not “Indian enough”.
“A lot of folks are going to get stuck with the bill,” Jay Stiener of the National Council of Urban Indian Health told the Associated Press.
Members of federally-recognized American Indian tribes have received government-funded health services since 1787. Throughout the US, there are 33 hospitals and 59 health centers that provide services including prenatal care, baby well-checks, dentistry and eye glasses to Native Americans.
The US government has treaty obligations to care for the well-being of Native Americans, but may soon abandon many of its legal responsibilities. President Obama’s health care reform will force thousands of Native Americans to purchase their own health insurance or pay a minimum fine of $695 to the Internal Revenue Service. Indian health advocacy groups estimate up to 480,000 people will be affected, AP reports.
Only those who can prove that they are “Indian enough” will be exempt from the mandate. Native Americans will have to show documentation that they belong to one out of 560 tribes that are federally recognized by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs.
There are more than 100 US tribes that are recognized by states, but not the federal government. Members of these tribes would no longer receive the free or subsidized healthcare that they are guaranteed by the Indian Health Service (IHS), which is a division within the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“This could lead to some tribal citizens being required to purchase insurance or face penalties even though they are covered by the HIS,” Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican congressman and member of the Chickasaw Nation tribe, told AP.
Additionally, Native Americans who do not have documentation of their tribe membership will be forced to purchase insurance or pay a fine. This becomes particularly troublesome for Native Americans under the age of 18, since many tribes only provide official membership to adults. Even if both parents of the minors are members, their healthcare coverage may not apply to their children unless they also have the proper documentation.
The health care reform would also complicate the situation for Native Americans who live in metropolitan areas or suburbs. Some tribal governments require members to live on the reservation to gain documentation, which few people do. Nearly two-thirds of American Indians and Alaska Natives currently live in cities, which hinders their ability to receive membership cards from their tribes.
News of the restrictions that Obamacare will impose upon American Indians has sparked outrage, particularly among those who will face financial consequences due to something that is out of their control.
“I’m no less Indian than I was yesterday, and just because the definition of who is Indian got changed in the law doesn’t mean that it’s fair for people to be penalized,” Liz DeRouen, a Native American who usually receives healthcare at a government-funded clinic in North Carolina, told AP. “If I suddenly have to pay for my own health insurance to avoid the fine, I won’t be able to afford it.”
DeRouen is a former tribal administrator for the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, but she lost her membership due to an argument with other members. But even though she lost documentation as a tribe member, she is still genetically considered a Native American.
The Obama administration currently has no solution to the hardships the Affordable Care Act will inflict upon the Native American population, but the IRS and the US Treasury have jointly scheduled a public hearing forMay 29to discuss establishment of who qualifies for the exemption from the insurance coverage requirement.
Nearly 30 percent of all Native Americans live below the poverty line, and forcing them to pay fines or purchase insurance would likely just increase this number.
A Christian prophet has a message for anyone with Native American or indigenous heritage: Repent, or risk an ominous-sounding spirit.
Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed "prophet" who ministers around the world and produces prayer-themed videos, made the suggestion in a "Ten Minute Prayer Schools" webisode posted to Vimeo last week.
"The Lord put a subject on my heart," Jacobs says. "I have seen this spirit tearing up so many people lives, and I just really feel from the Lord that I should teach it."
Jacobs goes on to say the spirit is very territorial, very active and has "supernatural attributes" as detailed in the Bible's Job 41.
"If you have in your bloodline any animus, any Native American blood, for instance -- not all Native Americans worshiped the serpent or crocodile, many did — but you might want to renounce that and repent for the generational iniquity,” Jacobs says. “If you are -- perhaps you’re Mexican and you might have indigenous blood in you or Mayan blood -- those who have Aztec blood in any way, you need to repent for the sin of animism before you begin to deal with this spirit.”
Jacobs also recommends watching out for totem poles and other native representations of animals, particularly the image of the crocodile.
"The Laviathan spirit breaks down communication, it is a twisting spirit," Jacobs explains in the video.
It "distorts the conversation" and "you will never be able to remedy it with natural remedies," such as counseling. Side effects of the demonic spirit may also include depression, anger and confusion, according to the prophet.
Jacobs is not alone in her belief in this Laviathan spirit, however, as evidenced by video of this young woman's "deliverance" from the spirit during a service of Faith in Action Deliverance Ministries in the Bronx last year.
In the past, Jacobs has received mainstream attention after arguing she had observed God multiplying food as she was cooking it. She has also suggested that durable shoes are proof that God provides "supernatural provisions" for those willing to listen to him.