History of Rakhine State and the Origin of Rohingya Muslims


Haradhan Kumar Mohajan(1*)

(1) Premier University
(*) Corresponding Author


Myanmar is a resource-rich country especially in oil and gas. The country is involved in ethnic conflicts since its independence in 1948. Recently violation of human rights against the Rohingya Muslims become severs. The main cause of Rohingya crisis is a question about its origin. Rakhine (or Arakan) is a State located in the west coast of Myanmar. The population of Arakan State is largely agrarian and more than 43.5% live below the poverty line. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group in Rakhine, consider as the most persecuted, vulnerable, and oppressed minorities around the globe. Recently, the persecution on Rohingya Muslims has increased due to Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar. Rohingyas are continued to suffer from several forms of restrictions and human rights violations in Myanmar due to deny Myanmar citizenship. They are victim of various oppressions, such as, arbitrary taxation, land confiscation, destruction of mosques, torture and ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions, restrictions on movements, forced eviction and house destruction, forced laborers on roads and at military camps, and financial restrictions on marriage.  Oppression on Rohingya started since 1962, when General Ne Win took power of Myanmar after a coup. Since the 1970s, a number of crackdowns on the Rohingya in Rakhine have forced hundreds of thousands to flee to neighboring countries. Sever Rohingya oppression took place in 2017 and 2018. More than one million Rohingya have migrated in Kutupalong-Balukhali, and Nayapara refugee camps, respectively, in Ukhia, and Teknaaf of Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. This article deals with the origin of Rohingyas and their citizenship in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.


Myanmar, Rohingya, refugee, citizenship, persecution


Abdelkader, E. (2014). Myanmar’s Democracy Struggle: The Impact of Communal Violence upon Rohingnya Woman and Youth. Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, 23(3), 511–542.

Ahmed, A. (2012). The Rohingya: Myanmar’s Outcasts. Al Jazeera English, January 12, 2012.

Ahmed, I. (Ed.) (2010). The Plight of the Stateless Rohingyas. Dhaka: The University Press Ltd.

Alam, M. A. (2013). Historical Background of Arakan. Kaladen Press.

Amanullah (1997). The Etymology of Arakan. The Arakan, 10(2), 4–5.

Arnold, K. (2016). Myanmar’s Shame: Living inside Rohingya Ghettos, March 31, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/31/asia/myanmar-rohingya-camp/

Aung, M. H. (1967). A History of Burma. New York: Columbia University Press.

Azad, A., & Jasmine, F. (2013). Durable Solutions to the Protracted Refugee Situation: The Case of Rohingyas in Bangladesh. Journal of Indian Research, 1(4), 25–35.

Bahar, A. S. (1981). The Arakani Rohingyas in Burmese Society. Master Thesis. University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Bahar, A. S. (2010a). Burma’s Missing Dots in Chronology: A Timeline of Burma’s Rohingya History in Arakan, 209–221.

Bahar, A. S. (2010b). Burma’s Missing Dots: The Emerging Face of Genocide. Montreal: Xlibris.

Beech, H. (2013). The Buddhist Monks Advocating Intolerance in Asia. TIME. 1 July 2013.

BROUK (2014). Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law and Rohingya. A Briefing by Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).

Buchanan, F. (1799). A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire. Asiatic Researches, 5, 219–240. www.soas.ac.uk/sbbr/editions/file64276.pdf

Buitrag, A. O. (2011). Statelessness and Human Right: The Role of UNHCR. EAFIT Journal of International Law, 2(2), 7–23.

Chan, A. (2005). The Development of a Muslim Enclave in Arakan (Rakhine) State of Burma (Myanmar). SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research, 3(2), 396–420.

Charney, M. W. (1999). Where Jambudipa and Islamdom Converged: Religious Change and the Emergence of Buddhist Communalism in Early Modern Arakan (Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries). PhD thesis, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

Charney, M. W. (2005). Buddhism in Arakan: Theories and Historiography of the Religious Basis of Ethnonyms. Paper Presented at the Arakan History Conference, Bangkok: Thailand.

Chowdhury, M. A. (1996). The Advent of Islam in Arakan and Rohingyas. The Annual Magazine 1995–96. Arakan Historical Society (AHS), University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.

CIA (2013). The World Factbook. East and South East Asia: Burma.

Coutts, E. (2005). The Rohingya Refugee Situation in Bangladesh. American International School.

Demographics of Myanmar (2018). Population of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in 2018.

Dittmer, L. (2010). Burma vs. Myanmar. What’s in the Name? In L. Dittmer (Ed.). Burma or Myanmar? The Struggle for National Identity, pp. 1–20. River Edge: World Scientific Publishing Co.

Downs, R. (2013). Is Burma’s Anti-Muslim Violence Led by Buddist Neo-Nazis? Vice.com.

Driss, B. (2016). Rohingya Minority in Myanmar between the Religious Persecution and the Reality of Constitutional Protection. Brawijaya Law Journal, 3(2), 221–240.

EBO (2009). The Rohingyas. Bengali Muslims or Arakan Rohingyas? EBO Briefing Paper No. 2, 1–5.

FAO (2018). Briefing Note. FAO’s Response to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh.

Forster, R. (2011). Magh Marauders, Portuguese Pirates, White Elephants and Persian Poets: Arakan and its Bay of Bengal Connectivities in the Early Modern Era. Explorations, 11(18), 63–60.

Fortify Rights (2014). Policies of Persecution: Ending Abusive State Policies against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. http://www.fortifyrights.org/downloads/Policies_of_Persecution_Feb_25_Fortify_Rights.pdf

Ghosh, N. (2013). Anti-Muslim Monk Changes Tack, Vows to Promote Peace. The Straits Times. 1 April 2013.

Government of Myanmar, GoM (2008). Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Myanmar: Printing and Publishing Enterprise, Ministry of Information.

Green, P. (2015). Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar. International State Crime Initiative.

Grundy-Warr, C., & Wong, E. (1997). Sanctuary under a Plastic Sheet–The Unresolved Problem of Rohingya Refugees. IBRU Boundary and Security Bulletin. Autumn, 79–91.

Hla, M. T. (2009). Rohingya Hoax. New York: Buddhist Rakhaine Cultural Association.

Holmes, O. (2015). Rohingya in Burma: The Claim that One in Ten has Fled on Boats. The Guardian.

Human Rights Watch, HRW (2012). The Government Could Have Stopped This: Sectarian Violence and Ensuing Abuses in Burma’s Arakan State. https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/burma0812webwcover_0.pdf

HRW (2013). All You Can Do is Pray. Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State. http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/burma0413_FullForWeb.pdf

In, L. S. (2015). Democratic Changes and the Rohingya in Myanmar. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (JATI), 20(1), 16–35.

International Crisis Group (2014). Myanmar: The Politics of Rakhine State. Brussels: International Crisis Group.

International Crisis Group (2016). Myanmar: A New Muslim Insurgency in Rakhine State. Brussels: December 15, 2016. https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/myanmar/283-myanmar-new-musliminsurgency-rakhine-state

International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, FIDH (2000). International Mission of Inquiry Burma Repression, Discrimination and Ethnic Cleansing in Arakan. Report, Special Issue the New Letter of the FIDH.

Integrated Regional Information Networks (2012). Bangladesh: NGO Ban Hurting Undocumented Rohingya. http://www.refworld.org/cgibin/texis/vtx/rwmain?page=country&category=&publisher=&type=&coi=BGD&rid=&docid=50d04fb52&skip=0

Islam, N. (1999). The Rohingya Problem, Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO). Arakan (Burma).

Islamic Human Rights Commission (2005). Myanmar’s Muslims: The Oppressed of the Oppressed. London.

Jaha, G. (1994). Rohingya Imbroglio: The Implication for Bangladesh. In S. R. Chakaravaty (Ed.), pp. 293. Foreign Policy of Bangladesh, New Delhi.

Jacques, P. L. (2005). Arakan Studies: Challenges and Contested Issues, Mapping a Field of Historical and Cultural Research. In Forgotten Kingdom of Arakan from Dhanyawadi to 1962.

Jilani, A. F. K. (1999). The Rohingyas of Arakan: Their Quest for Justice. Ahmed Jilani. Privately published.

Karen Human Rights Group (2002). The Persecution of Muslims in Burma. Karen: Karen Human Rights Group Press.

Karim, A. (2000). The Rohingyas: A Short Account of Their History and Culture. Arakan Historical Society, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Khan, H. M. (2017). Interpreting Migrant Culture: Beginner’s Notes in Anthropology (Study Case – the Rohingya). KU LEUVEN, Anthropology Graduate Colloquium 2017.

Kiragu, E., Rosi, A. L., & Morris, T. (2011). States of Denial a Review of UNHCR’s Response to the Protracted Situation of Stateless Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh. http://www.unhcr.org/4ee754c19.pdf.

Leitich, K. A. (2014). Decoding the Past: The Rohingya Origin Enigma. Paper Presented at the Third Annual Southeast Asian Studies Symposium Keble College. University of Oxford, 22–23 April, 2014.

Lewa, C. (2009). Northern Arakan: An Open Prison for the Rohingya in Burma. Forced Migration Review, 32, 11–13.

Lindblom, A., Marsh, E., Motala, T., & Munyan, K. (2015). Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims: Is Genocide Occurring in Myanmar’s Rakhine State? Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School for Fortify Rights.

Marshall, T. H. (1950). ‘Citizenship and Social Class’ in Citizenship and Social Class. London, Pluto Press.

Martin, M. F. (2017). Burma’s Brutal Campaign against the Rohingya, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700.

Matthieson, D. S. (1995). Plight of the Damned: Burma’s Rohingya Take to the Seas. Global Asia, 4(1), 86–91.

McDaniel, M. G. (2017). The Politics of Identity in Myanmar: The Rohingya, Kachin & Wa Ethnic Minorities.

McDowell, R. (2013). Rohingya Kids in Myanmar: Hard Labor, Bleak Lives. Associated Press.

MRGI (2008). World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples-Myanmar/Burma: Muslims and Rohingya. Minority Rights Group International.

Murphy, D. (2013). A British Legacy? Forced Migration, Displacement and Conflict in Eastern Burma. Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration, 3(1), 66–82.

Nawoyski, K. (2013). Genocide Emergency: Violence against the Rohingya and Other Muslims in Myanmar. Genocide Watch. http://genocidewatch.net/wpcontent/uploads/2013/04/Myanmar-2013-04-04-Genocide-Emergency-Rakhine-State.pdf

OHCHR (2017). Mission Report of OHCHR Rapid Response Mission to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. United Nations Human Rights. Office of the High Commissioner.

Palatino, M. (2013). The Politics of Numerology: Burma’s 969 vs. 786 and Malaysia’s 505. The Diplomat, 16 May 2013. http://thediplomat.com/2013/05/the-politics-of-numerology-burmas-969-vs-786-andmalaysias-505/

Parnini, S. N. (2013). The Crisis of Rohingya as a Muslim Minority in Myanmar and Bilateral Relations with Bangladesh. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Published online.

Parra, J. (2011). Stateless Roma in the European Union: Reconciling the Doctrine of Sovereignty Concerning Nationality Laws with International Agreements to Reduce and Avoid Statelessness. Fordham International Law Journal, 34(6), 1685–1687.

Patgiri, M. (2017). Rohingya Muslims and the Question of Citizenship, Human Rights and Security in Myanmar. Asian Journal of Research in Social Sciences and Humanities, 7(6), 224–239.

Pitman, T., & Gecker. J. (2015). Malaysia Migrant Graves Reveal 139 Human Skeletons at Site Where Rohingya Muslims ‘Kept by Traffickers’. The Independent.

Pugh, C. L. (2013). Is Citizenship the Answer? Constructions of Belonging and Exclusion for the Stateless Rohingya of Burma. Working Paper No. 107, International Migration Institute, University of Oxford.

Qanungo, S. B. (1988). A History of Chittagong. Vol.1, Billah Printers, Anderkilla, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Rabby, A. A. (2016). Does Nationalism Causes War? A Case Study of Rohingya Ethnic Minorities of Myanmar. Research and Discussion, 9(1-3), 57–79.

Rahman, K. M. A. (2015). Ethno-Political Conflict: The Rohingya Vulnerability in Myanmar. International Journal of Humanities & Social Science Studies, II(I), 288–295.

Rahman, U. (2010). The Rohingya Refugee: A Security Dilemma for Bangladesh. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 8(2), 233–239.

Remenyi, D. S. J., Swartz, E., Money, A., & Williams, B. (1998). Doing Research in Business and Management: An Introduction to Process and Method. SAGE Publications, London.

Ripoll et al. (2017). Social and Cultural Factors Shaping Health and Nutrition, Wellbeing and Protection of the Rohingya within a Humanitarian Context. Institute of Development Studies, UNICEF.

Rogers, B. (2013). Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads. London, UK: Random House.

Rohingya Patriotic Front (1978). Genocide in Burma against the Muslims of Arakan. Rohingya Patriotic Front Arakan (Burma).

Rosenblat, M. O. (2015). A Rational Approach to the Rohingya Crisis. The Diplomat. Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Routray, B. P. (2014). Profiling the 969 Movement. Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, IPCS Special Report No. 138.

Saw, K. M. (1993). The ‘Rohingyas’, Who are They? The Origin of the Name ‘Rohingya’. In Uta Gärtner & Jens Lorenz (Eds.). Tradition and Modernity in Myanmar. Proceedings of an International Conference Held in Berlin from May 7–9, 1993.

Saw, K. M. (2009). Religions in Arakan.

Saw, K. M. (2011). Islamization of Burma through Chittagonian Bengalis as Rohingya Refugees. Unpublished manuscript.

Scott, J. (2009). The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. New Haven, Yale University Press.

Selth, A. (2012). Myanmar’s Police Forces: Coercion, Continuity and Change. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs, 34(1), 53–79.

Shams, S. (2015). ‘Myanmar’s Rohingya Conflict ‘More Economic than Religious’. Interview with Siegfried O. Wolf, Deutsche Welle.

Singh, B. (2014). ASEAN, Myanmar and the Rohingya Issue, Himalayan and Central Asian Studies, 18(1-2), 5-20.

Smith, M. (1995). The Muslim “Rohingya” of Burma. In Conference of Burma Centrum Nederland.

Smith, M. (2006). The Muslim Rohingya of Burma. Kaladan Press.

Sohel, M. S. (2017). The Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: Origin and Emergence. Saudi Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(11A), 1007–1018.

Solomon, F. (2016). Unrest in Burma’s Arakan State: A Timeline, Time World, November 21, 2016.

Than, T. M. M. (2007). Mapping the Contours of Human Security Challenges in Myanmar. Myanmar: State, Society and Ethnicity.

The Economist (2012). Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar: A Bloody Road to Apartheid. 28 October 2012. http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2012/10/ethnic-cleansing-myanmar

The Seattle Times (2013). Extremism Builds among Myanmar’s Buddhists. The Seattle Times Newspaper.

UNHCR (2010). Expert Meeting: The Concept of Stateless Persons under International Law. Summary Conclusions. Meeting Held at Prato, Italy, 27–28 May 2010.

UNHCR (2014). Text of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Geneva, Switzerland.

UNOCHA (2015). Myanmar: Internal Displacement in Rakhine State. http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Affected_Map_IDP_Sites_Rakhin e_OCHA_Aug2015_A4.pdf

Ullah, A. A. (2011). Rohingya Refugees to Bangladesh: Historical Exclusions and Contemporary Marginalization. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 9(2), 139–161.

Varshney, A. (2007). Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict. In The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics, New York: Oxford University Press.

Walton, M. J. (2013). Buddhism Turns Violent in Myanmar. Asia Times, 2 April 2013.

Walton, M. J., & Hayward, S. (2014). Contesting Buddhist Narratives: Democratization, Nationalism, and Communal Violence in Myanmar. Honolulu, HI: East-West Center.

Ware, A. (2015). Secessionist Aspects to the Buddhist-Muslim Conflict in Rakhine State, Myanmar. In Damien Kingsbury & Costas Laoutides (Eds.), Territorial Separatism and Global Politics, (War and Intrastate Conflict Series), London: Routledge.

Warzone Initiatives (2015). Rohingya Briefing Report, 1–18.

Williams, A. (2013). Myanmar Bans Time Magazine over Buddhist Terror. Inside Investor, 28 June 2013.

Wolf, S. O. (2017). Genocide, Exodus and Exploitation for Jihad: The Urgent Need to Address the Rohingya Crisis. SADF Working Paper No. 6.

World Bank (2012). International Development Association and International Finance Cooperation Interim Strategy Note for the Republic of the Union of Myanmar for the Period FY 2013–14. World Bank.

Wright, R., & Westcott, B. (2017). CNN, September 8, 2017. At Least 270,000 Rohingya Flee Myanmar Violence in 2 Weeks.

Yegar, M. (1972). The Muslims of Burma. Weesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

Yin, K. M. (2005). Salience of Ethnicity among Burman Muslims: A Study in Identity Formulation. Intellectual Discourses, 13(2), 168–169.

Yunus, M. (1994). A History of Arakan: Past and Present. University of Chittagong, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Zarni, M. (2013). Fascist Roots, Rewritten Histories. Asian Times Online.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/ikat.v2i2.34182

Article Metrics

Abstract views : 118


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Haradhan Kumar Mohajan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

View My Stats