Sunday, April 22, 2012

If I were not a Muslim, I would be a citizen of Myanmar

I was born in Arakan state of Myanmar. My parents were also born there. My forefathers were also.

There are many ethnic groups in Myanmar. They all are non-Muslims .Majority are Buddhists. And some of them are Christians. However, they all have been recognized as the citizens of Myanmar. These Christians are also facing various kinds of racism in Myanmar as you all know it but less than Rohingya Muslims of Arakan state. It is because they are not Buddhists.

There are so many Chinese peoples in Myanmar who migrated from China today they are the citizens of Myanmar. There are so many Bangladeshi Rakhine in Myanmar, especially, in Arakan state who have got Myanmar nationality. There are so many Hindus in Myanmar who migrated from India and Nepal. They all have been given nationalities because they are not Muslims.

There are no any historical proofs that there were Chinese and Hindus people in Myanmar. Now, where have they come with Myanmar citizenship from? As I said earlier, there is thousands of Bangladeshi Rakhine in Arakan state who migrated from Bangladesh now with Myanmar citizenship.

According to some racists, Rohingya are from Bangladesh because their language is similar to Bangladeshi language though there are many historical proofs and evidences that Rohingya are from Myanmar not from Bangladesh. I want to ask those racists here are. What is the difference of Rakhine language and Burmese language? Isn’t similar? Rakhine language is more than 80% to Burmese language. Does it mean that Rakhine are descendents of Burmese people or Burmese people come from Rakhine?

Some racists say that Rohingya's religion and culture is unlike us, how can they be given citizenship of Myanmar? This is very illogical excuse. As we all know that there are Muslims in almost every countries of the world with different religions and cultures. And there are also non-Muslims in Muslims countries. For example, there are Rakhine Buddhists in Bangladesh with Bangladeshi nationalities. Is their religions and cultures are same?

Can a language be a judgment factor in whether a community is a citizen of a country or not?

According to some racists, Muslims in Arakan state cannot be nationals of Myanmar simply because they can’t speak Burmese. One would be wrong to say so because the educated Muslims in Arakan state can speak Burmese fluently. More than 90% of the Rakhine in Arakan state can’t speak Burmese fluently either but they speak Rakhine language. Besides, some of Kachins, Chins, Mons, and Shans etc. can’t speak Burmese. Are not they citizens of Myanmar? These facts cannot be a judgment factor in deciding the nationality of the people in Myanmar.

As far as I am concerned, many Muslims in Arakan can’t speak Burmese because these people are locked mostly in northern Arakan state and there are no proximity and close relationships between Burmese and these people. Many of them cannot find a single Burmese to speak with. So, how can they speak Burmese? We have to think logically rather than on arbitrary basis. But those (Muslims) people who have close relationships with local Rakhine can speak Rakhine fluently. The worse thing is that even many high school students in Maung Daw and Buthidaung cannot speak Burmese fluently because they are, in their schools, taught in local Rakhine dialect even though the books are in Burmese language.

Moreover, in India, Ethnic Tamil, Telugu etc. don't even know the official Hindi language let alone speaking it. Are not they citizens of India? In China, official Language is Mandarin and there are millions of people who can't speak the language. Are not they citizens of China? In Thailand, people who live southern part can't speak Thai properly. Are not they considered as citizens of Thailand? In Bangladesh, there millions of people who can't speak Shudda Basha (spelling...). Are not they citizens of Bangladesh? These are few examples. The open-minded, logical and peace-loving people will understand this.

Here, I'd like to ask those people who criticize Rohingya Muslims for not being able to speak Burmese fluently that how they can be able to speak it fluently under the circumstances that they were born in Arakan state and are locked up in cage like birds. So, to be qualified as an ethnic group, they don't necessarily be able to speak the language of dominant or majority people.

Therefore, I think my only fault is that I am a Muslim.

Kefyeth Noor (BA.LLB)

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