Dr. Aye Chan
Dear BBC: I listened to your interview with U Tun Khin, the Chairman of the Rohingya Association of Britain on the morning Burmese program of September 1st, 2010. There are two dimensions in this case. We don't deny these Muslims have faced severe suppressions in the northern Arakan by the Burmese military. However, they are not only ethnic group under brutal oppression of the junta. We are wondering why the world's famous medias are more concerned with Rohingya than other ethnic minorities.

To recognize "Rohingya" as a national indigenous people is a different issue. These people were descendents of the Bengali agricultural laborers in the British colonial period. I have historically proved that. You can read my article in "SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research 3-2." I am ready to debate with any scholar on this topic. They came to live in Arakan State in the colonial period. The Arakanese people welcomed. After the Second World War, they were the majority in that area and before the declaration of independence they demanded the area to be incorporated into East Pakistan that is now Bangladesh. When the Pakistani leaders discouraged their demand they declared Jihad on the Union of Burma. When they lost the jungle war, they created the term "Rohingya," calling for the "Rohingya State" for them. There has never been such an ethnic group in Burmese history.

I agree what the Congressman Smith said that after living for generations these Pakistani, Arabs and Indians became British Citizens. But these immigrants in Britain are not demanding a national territory. They are not demanding a separate ethnic identity, like Scottish, Irish or Whales. They are not calling for a national area of themselves even in the North Sea. They call themselves British. In 1947 these Chittagonian Bengalis demanded the partition of Arakan into two states. How would the native Arakanese feel if their ancestral land is divided to give away a part to the immigrants? I want to ask BBC and U Tun Khin.

Aye Chan
Professor of History
Department of International Cultures
Kanda University of International Studies
1-4-1 Wakaba, Mihamaku, Chiba 261-0014
Tel. 81-43-273-2897 (Office)

Sources: Rakhapura