Roots of the Stateless: TRC Holders

Just picking up from the conversations by Abid, Derek and Dr Uddins;(7-Jun-14)

To Dr Abid B.: I did send the copy of Scotman's May-1949 Article as an attachment to all. Sorry if some of you do not get that attachment. What I've reckon is that some email servers automatically stripped off the attachments. From now on, I shall embed the links within email whenever possible.

To Dr Uddins: The total number of Rohingya who returned in 1994 under the UNHCR program was about 220,000. As you are aware, they were from the initial 250,000 in the exodus of 1991 Burmese government crackdowns. These returnees, along with other resident-Rohingyas were issued "Temporary Registration Certificates (TRC)" in 1995, under the 1949 Residents of Burma Registration Act and 1951 Residents of Burma Registration Rules (see pp.30 HRW report, Sept. 1996). According to that HRW report, the stateless Rohingya & old-FRC holders were to have been given that TRC, thanks to the efforts of UNHCR. ( )

The Temporary Registration Certificates seems to be the only possible alternative for the stateless Rohingyas, given the draconian nature of 1982 Citizenship Laws. I would, however, hoping that these TRC will somehow be improved into some forms of proper Burmese citizenship.

The existence of that particular Rohingya group, i.e. who migrated after 1948, wasn't known to most outside observers. However, the professional organisations like UNHCR, HRW and Amnesty may already have had some knowledge. For example, in the 1995 report by P. Nicolaus, Senior Repatriation Officer of UNHCR ( ):

"During the civil war the Mujahids had encouraged immigrants from East-Pakistan to settle in the area controlled by the guerrila movement. The influx continued and apparently become even larger after 1961, as the area became more prosperous and attracted businessmen and smugglers."

Obviously, by the 1982 Citizenship Laws, these Rohingya migrants were being excluded in granting citizenship and become stateless persons. How many such persons at certain point in time, who really knows? There were politically biased reports on this subject by some Rakhines and media. Numbers like 80,000 and 130,000 like that Scotman's article, could only be taken as indicators, I suppose.

Derek T. talked about the migrants' rights to participate in politics. Believe it or not. Burma's 2010 Political Parties Registration Law permits all 3 types of citizens (full, Associate & Naturalised) together with TRC holders to form & register political party. This could literally means a TRC can be elected to the Burmese parliament. ( )

The ultra-nationalist group like RNDP has been on attack about that particular point of the law. From human rights perspective, this is the government granting the part of ICCPR to the Associate Citizens and TRC holders, whilst obviously leving them out on the part of ICESCR. I think the Rohingya support groups should, perhaps, look these into details.

Whilst, we, the senior gents, can talk about Burma at 1948/1982/Ne Win's era, etc. etc.. in continuum, spare some thoughts for younger Rohingyas (& Burmese too). Those Rohingya adults under age of 30, say, will have no idea about the Ne Win era, left alone comprehending the predicaments of East-Pakistanese migrant who might have hold an FRC and being stranded in Arakan in 1950-60s. All these younger generation will see only the present: racism, discrimination, exclusion and injustice. That is why the right information is very important. We must establish the "TRUTH". Afterall, we owe it to the younger generations and, of course, to the wider world.

In Solidarity,
U Ne Oo.

COMMENT #5 BY Dr Abid Bahar

Dear gentlemen,

Actually, I am in favor of dialogue. I am even interested to dialogue with Mr. U Ne O. But how can you have a meaningful dialogue with somebody who cites a quotation to win over the argument, but doesn't want to identify the source. It says:

"..The great majority of Arakan Moselms are said to be really Pakistanis from Chittagong, even if they have been settled here for a generation. Of the 130,000 Moslems here, 80,000 are still Pakistani citizens." I want to know whose version is this?Who says it?

True, as Dr Walker says : The international community doesn't want to accept this phony argument that Rohingya are Bangladeshi people because such claims doesn't merit as arguments

(1) especially because they know such arguments are racially motivated.

(2) They also know that in that region by recognizing diversity, countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh accepted even British time Indian Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali and Nepalese settlers as their citizens. In Bangladesh it accepted British time Burmese Rakhine settlers. Whereas Burma has problem to deal with its indigenous Rohingya people. The international community know that there must be something wrong with the Burmese case. For the Burmese logic is Rohingya don't look like the Burmese people, they look like orgies, and demons." Surely, Arakanese Burmese logic is: " I am always right (dominant group) and you are always wrong ("subject people").

The point is Rohingya people instead of entering during the British period, history records them leaving Arakan in large numbers. From 1942 in particularly in large numbers. ( This different from Indians/ Bangladeshis settling in Rangoon) Many people in Cox's Bazar were 1942 settlers (the historian of the Rohingya people Professor Habibullah told me that he left Arakan as a child with his parents along with a great many Rohingya people and settled in Cox's Bazar).

History records:

"In 1948 Burma became independent from British rule. Rohingyas again began to be protection less. Aung San became Burma's democracy leader. He was trying to bring ethnic harmony through dialogue with ethnic minorities but the entire team of democracy leaders including Aung San was assassinated by powerful quarters who sought to control Burma by force.

"1958 Rohingya refugges took shelter in East Pakistan; the number of refugees identified as being 10,000. (17) 1959, Burma agreed with East Pakistan governor Zakir Hossain to take back Rohingya refugees who had taken shelter in Chittagong in 1958. When questioned "why refugees were pouring into Pakistan from Burma, the Govornor replied that the government of Burma had noting to do with it. Actually the Moghs of Arakan were creating the trouble." (18) In 1960 The Daily Guardian, Rangoon, 27th October 1960 reports that Burmese "Supreme Court quashes expulsion orders against Arakanese Muslims."(19)

17. Pakistan Times, August 26, 1959.
18. Pakistan Times 27th August 1959
19. 1960 The Daily Guardian, Rangoon, 27th October 1960.

COMMENT #4 BY Derek Tonkin

The view of the international community is indeed very much as Dr Uddin says. They are not all that interested in how long Muslim residents of Arakan have been there. Nor do they have a view on what ‘Rohingya’ might mean and how long the designation has been around. They leave all that to scholars and historians. It scarcely affects their assessment of the responsibility of the Myanmar Government for the statelessness of the majority of Rohingya in defiance of accepted international norms and practice.

British policy while they were in charge was that anyone who came from India and was born and bred in Burma merited Burma ‘domicile’. That was the essence of the Indo-Burma Agreement of 1941. The censuses of 1911, 1921 and 1931 gave a fairly clear, if rather simplified and not all that accurate picture of the ethno-linguistic origins of the peoples of Burma. Whether they were ‘indigenous’ or not was then only a matter of technical, academic interest, because both indigenous and non-indigenous were ‘British Subjects’ technically free to move to, and work in, any part of the then British Empire.

The attached extract from the 1931 Census gives some idea of the ethnic make-up of townships in Arakan. Note that the ‘Indo-Burman’ races included Rakaing-kala (Arakan Muslims or today’s Rohingya), Zerbaidis, Kaman, Myedus and other Muslim groups regarded by the British as quasi-indigenous, if not indigenous. These are not included in the list of ‘Indian Muslim’ who were in any case over 80% Burma born and bred and were mainly immigrants from the Chittagong region.

To this day a peasant girl living on the Indian side of the Khyber Pass is theoretically as qualified to stand as a candidate for the House of Commons as any other Commonwealth citizen or resident of Britain. The Senior FCO Minister of State in the House of Lords, Baroness Warsi, was born in Bangladesh.

Derek Tonkin

COMMENT #3 by Dr. Wakar Uddin

Dear Mr. Jilani,

Just some food for thought - I normally do not get involved in email exchanges among parties going on and on with "he said, she said". I want to jot down a couple of notes for you because it truly itches when you see something utterly ridiculous from the other side. One does not have to be a scholarly historian; it is just a matter of common sense. You may have noticed what the other side was saying:

1. ...entered Rakhine State during 1948 and 1962-64 falling outside the scope of 1982 Citizenship law?

Gen. Ne Win said in his Bible of the Black Law: Class 1 Citizenship is descendants of residents who lived in Burma prior 1823 or were born to parents who were citizens at the time of birth. You might want to connect the two to make sense. And also, the Citizens, as defined by the 1947 Constitution, are persons who belong to an "indigenous race"; therefore, Rooinga/Rohingya, as an indigenous race is highly toxic to them.

2. ...mainly the returnees of 1994 repatriation, ...issued Temporary Residents Card or white cards?

You might want to point out how many Rohingya were repatriated in 1994, how many Rohingya people were issued White Cards. Does this connect?

3. ...The great majority of Arakan Moselms are said to be really Pakistanis from Chittagong?
You might want to ask what does great majority means (the arguer may have a number?). You will notice time and again that lumping indigenous Rohingya with Pakistani and Indian economic/business immigrants in pre/post 1948 is one of their biggest weapons. Believe it or not, they even say 1972. Would you remind the "arguer" what is Chittagong and how far north Rohingya's Rohang region extends inside today's Bangladesh,...and the then populace of Chittagong area before Bengalis from the North started to dominate the area within Bangladesh (Historian Dr. Abid Bahar have explained this time and again, particularly why there are some affinity between Rohingya of Arakan and the people of Southern Bangladesh, but not those of the rests of Bangladesh speaking Bengali as known as Shuddo Basha).

4. ...first and foremost is to get the right information?

This is the core of the problem. You know what I mean - what information they will like and what information they will not like? Time and again they are manipulating the "information argument" primarily basing on two things: 1. Certain overlaps in cultural and physical appearance between ethnic Rohingya population and people of South Asia (from East/West Bengal to Baluchistan). Blending ethnic Rohingya with immigrants from India/Pakistan during pre/post colonial period.

I have been tracking some of the exchanges between Dr. Abid Bahar and a couple of guests, and it is very eye-opening for all by the points that Dr. Bahar makes. I want to tell you one more thing: When we sit in Washington (State Dept, Congress, and others) the history of Rooinga/Rohangya sometimes pops up. Do you know what some of the top guys/ladies say? "We are not interested; they (Rohingya) were there, there are there, and they will be there"! They seem to recognize that there is not much history about remote jungle Arakan, except for some "opinions" and "personal observation/thought" by British military officers and a couple f freelancers, and this is the best tool for those in Burma to drag on the Rohingya issue. Arguing gives them time, and they are buying time to have the momentum in the international community slows down. The "Power House" in the international community clearly understand the reality, and they along with Rohingya people, will not settle with anything based on myth, trick, or deception.


Dr. Wakar Uddin

COMMENT #2 Abul Jilini

U Ne Oo,

" Voiceless Vs. Heartless"

"You burned down hundred of Muslim villages. Killed thousands. Herded the rest to the camps on the beeches of the Bay of Bengal. Forced them to leave their mother land. Thousands died in the high sea." Rohingyas are voiceless, where as Buddhist Rakhine and Burmese are heartless people.

When the Muslims were drown it was a good news for you. Where is the humanity?

Byatta helped you to defeat Manuha and Buddhism was brought from Thaton. His two sons helped Anurahta to win the battle with Chinese. But the two were beheaded by him. Is it not ungrateful? You are heartless people.

" San Shwe Bu, who claims to report the account common to Rakhine Magh historians, dismisses the episode with not a word of sympathy for the unfortunate Shah Shuja. He tries to rationalize the most cruel conduct of the Magh Raja."...Siddiq Khan - 'The Tragedy of Mrauk-U page- 237

Narameik Hla was reared at the court of Sultan of Gour for 26 years and helped him to get back his throne of Arakan. Alas! the Magh Raja of Arakan failed to give refuge to a Muslim prince a few years. Instead he had killed them in most brutal way.

On the way to Arakan many people asked them not to proceed, saying" Oh Pari!,the people of Rosango eat boiled flesh of human beings,'don,t go to south towards the bank of the sea, the MAgh sea pirates will take you with a rope tied around your neck," (The BD Observer, Dhaka Feb 21, 1975.)

In 1942 you had messarcred one hundred Muslims of Arakan, burned down 317 Muslim villages.

After independent your BTF and UMP killed Muslims in hundreds, driven 30,000. In 1959 Gen. Tin Oo (now NLD Tin Oo) with the order of Bo Ne win inhumanly uprooted thousands of Rohingyas from 24 villages in Maungdaw North and 8 villages in Buthidaung North. They were tortured and pushed into East Pakistan. It was locally known as' Reign of terror carried out by Bo Htin Kyaw' during the Care Taker Government of Gen. Ne Win.

In 1978 you had carried out the King Dragon Operation and driven 250,000 Rohingyas from North Arakan. Again in 1992 you had driven another 250,000 Rohingyas.

Now you are carrying out hidden genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people.

Source: 'The Rohingyas of Arakan _ Thier Quest For Justice'



Dear Gentlemen: One & All,

In my earlier note to Abul, I have said:

"(1) The group of Bengali migrants who most likely have entered Rakhine State during 1948 and 1962-64 will fall outside the scope of 1982 Citizenship Law. Their descendants, therefore, will also fall outside 1982 Citizenship Law and are considered stateless. These are mainly the returnees of 1994 repatriation, who the Burmese government had issued Temporary Residents Card or white cards. The UNHCR, Amnesty, HRW, International Press and activist like myself do referred to this group as "Rohingya" or "stateless Rohingyas". Burmese government like to call them 'Bengalis'...."

Enclosed news clipping of 18-May-1948, reporting about Mujahid rebellion, noted:

"..The great majority of Arakan Moselms are said to be really Pakistanis from Chittagong, even if they have been settled here for a generation. Of the 130,000 Moslems here, 80,000 are still Pakistani citizens."

Those 80,000 Pakistani citizens in 1949, I am certain very few would have gone back to Pakistan/Bangladesh. They definitely would have fallen outside the scope of 1982 Citizenship Law and they are mostly likely source of the "Stateless Rohingyas (Temporary Resident Cards holders)".

I think when we try to solve complex issues like displacement of Rohingyas, first and foremost is to get the right information. Denying or covering-up about the existence of such migrant group can make finding solution harder. Truth is very important to solving Rohingya problems.

In Solidarity,
U Ne Oo.