Saturday, 20 July 2019

Aman Ullah

Introduction:

We live in a time of great change, a time of new beginnings. We live in a time when many things are coming to an end.

In the evolution of democracy we are coming to the end of that phase of democracy that we think of as representative democracy. For centuries we have elected people to represent us, to give us voice in far-off forums, and then we have judged how well they represented us. Now the world is shifting from the long period of representative democracy to the direct democracy.


The world today is about the individual, not the state. It is about self-organization, just business has experienced the shift to self-management. The world is being run by the collective judgments and actions of individuals. The deployment of power is shifting from state to individual, from vertical to horizontal. Politics will reemerge as the engine of individualism.

The world’s trends point overwhelmingly toward political independence and self-rule. The new era is an ear of self-rule for the peoples around the world. Self-rule is the pillar of democracy. People all over world are beginning to seize that opportunity. Many people of the world today want self-rule and everyday they see others getting self-rule, or moving toward it.

The Union of Burma became independent in 1948 only after extensive negotiations led by General Aung San, who convinced most ethnic minority groups to join the new union. The Panglong Agreement of 1947 outlined minority rights and specifically gave the Shan and Karenni peoples the option to secede from the union a decade after independence. Yet these constitutional guarantees were never fully respected. The identities and equality of the ethnic people were slowly eroded away. Nationalism, Burman control, and Buddhism have continued to be essential elements of political legitimacy and the endeavor to create national identity under all regimes. Almost immediately upon the independence, Burma was thrown into a series of brutal ethnic wars that have continued with varying intensity to this day. Thus, the Union of Burma today is facing unprecedented crisis- economic, social and political. Even the survival of the Union is also at stake.

The crisis in the Union of Burma today is rooted in political problem, specially a constitutional one that rooted in question of self-determination for non-Burman nationalities. Thus, these differences can be resolved through political means and through political process, i.e. through political dialogue, negotiations and compromise, and through establishing a genuine Federal Union of Burma, which will guarantee democratic rights for all citizens, political equality for all nationalities and the rights of self-determination for all member states of the Union. A federal system that combines and balances between “self-rule” for ethnic national homelands and a “shared-rule” for the Union is federal system.

Arakan

Arakan, also known as Rohang, was long famous and widely known to Arabs, Dutch, Portuguese and British traders as a center of international trade and commerce and is situated in the tri-border region between modern day –Burma, Bangladesh and India. Arakan holds a major geopolitical position: apart from being at the outermost bounds of the Indian sub-continent and of South-east Asia, Arakan also represents a meeting point between a Muslim and Hindu Asia and a Buddhist Asia, as well as between the Indian and Tibetan-Burmese populations.

The ethnic Rohingya is one of the many nationalities of the union of Burma. And they are one of the two major communities of Arakan; the other is Rakhine and Buddhist. The Muslims (Rohingyas) and Buddhists (Rakhines) peacefully co-existed in the Arakan for many centuries.  In addition to Muslim (Rohingya) and Buddhist (Rakhine) majority groups, a number of other minority peoples also come to live in Arakan, including the Chin, Kamans, Thet, Dinnet, Mramagri, Mro and Khami who, though many are Christians today, were traditionally animists. The Kamans are Muslims and the Mramagri (Baurwa) are Buddhists. Some ethnic Burman also comes to live in Arakan since 1784 after invasion and occupation by the Burman.

Although it is made a part of Burma now, it had never been in the past. Culturally, socially, economically, and politically the people of Arakan were independent for many centuries. Arakan history as an independent and sovereign kingdom came to an end by the invasion and occupation of Burman in 1784. However, before Bodawphaya could consolidate his power over Arakan, the British occupied and annexed it in 1824 to the British India. When Burma was separated from India in 1937 in according to the 1935 Burma Act Arakan was made a part of British Burma against the wish of its people and finally it became a province of Independent Burma on January4, 1948.

By transferring the sovereignty of Arakan to the Union of Burma the peoples of Arakan lost their legitimate right to self-determination, which is an individual and collective right to “freely determine . . . political status and [to] freely pursue . . . economic, social and cultural development." And the right to self-determination of the people of Arakan is also defended by the principle that the determination of the political future of a colonized people made either by the colonial power itself or a "ruler" established by the colonial power is repugnant to the process of de-colonization and the principle of self-determination.

In fact, the British while de-colonizing Burma should not transfer the sovereignty of Arakan over Burma without the native people’s consent, which is violation of the UN resolution 1514-XV. The sovereignty over a colonial territory resides with the people of that colony and not with the colonialist power.  It is also clearly violated the Resolution 2625-XXV of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which stated that all colonial territories have juridical status that is separate and distinct from the colonialist country, and from other colonial territories, and is separate juridical status remains as long as the people of each of this colonial territory have not yet exercised their right of self-determination.

British’s transfer of ‘sovereignty’ over Arakan to Burma was, therefore, downright illegal and it was a forcible annexation to the Union of Burma. There is no legality and juridical values of the Treaty on the transfer of ‘sovereignty’ between British and Burma signed on October 7, 1947, especially concerning the transfer of ‘sovereignty’ over Arakan to Burma. Firstly, the Treaty clearly violated the decolonization principles of the UN and the right of self-determination of the people of Arakan. Secondly, the Treaty was signed neither by representation of the people of Arakan nor got mandate from the people of Arakan to do so. Thirdly, the power and authority of the people of Arakan was arbitrarily ignored in the Treaty. Finally, the transfer took place without consulting the people of Arakan by plebiscite or referendum, and doing it outside all the established international norms and procedures.

The letter of Panlong and spirit of Panglong was not related to the people of Arakan. It was neither delegated nor represented by the people of Arakan. There was no cooperation or participation from the people of Arakan except a few Rakhine political leaders who were under the AFPFL flag participated there as the member of the AFPFL.

The Arakanese helped the Allied Forces in their offensive to drive the Japanese out of Burma. As a matter of fact, the Arakanese had been given to understand that they would become independent separately according to Atlantic Charter which promised independence to the colony which helped the Allied Forces to win the war. However, the dream to become an independent of the Arakanese was never come to true.

Thus, nothing else was changed in Arakan after ‘independence’ except change of hands. The portion of time preceding Burmese independence was very dark for the people of Arakan. The people of Arakan hardly believe that Burman governs them, but they strongly feel that they are colonized. After being integrated into Burma the people of Arakan have been a part of unitary of Union of Burma during which time they have been subjected to brutal and inhuman treatment; human rights abuses, killings, rapes, ignorance, poverty and social injustice and have been subjected virtual ethnic and cultural genocide.

Rohingyas

Rohingyas are Muslims who have been living in Arakan for time immemorial. They trace their ancestry to Arabs, Moors, Pathans, Moguls, Bengalis and some Indo-Mongoliod people. They are living in Arakan generation after generation for centuries after centuries and their arrival in Arakan has predated the arrival of many other peoples and races now residing in Arakan and other parts of Burma. Early Muslim settlement in Arakan dates back to 7th century AD. They developed from different stocks of people and concentrated in a common geographical location from their own society with a consolidated population in Arakan well before the Burman invasion in 1784.

Rohingyas are much more than a national minority. They are a nation with a population of 3.5 million (both home and abroad), having a supporting history, separate culture, civilization, language and literature, historically settled territory and reasonable size of population and area – they consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the society. They are determined not only to preserve and develop their ancestral history and their ethnic identity, but also to transmit to future generations as the basis of their continued existence as people, in accordance with their own cultural pattern, social institution and legal system. By history, by tradition, by culture and civilization, the Rohingyas are as much citizens of Burma as anyone else in the Country. They are equal in every way with other communities of the country.

Thus, during the colonial rule the British recognized the separate identity of the Rohingyas and declared north Arakan as the Muslim Region. Again there are instances that Prime Minister U Nu, Prime Minister U Ba Swe, other ministers and high-ranking civil and military official, stated that the Rohingyas people like the Shan, Kachin, Karen, Kaya, Mon and Rakhine. They have the same rights and privileges as the other nationals of Burma regardless of their religious beliefs or ethnic background.

Under the article 3 of Aung San-Atlee Treaty and the First Schedule to the Burma Independence Act, 1947, the Rohingyas are the citizens of the Union of Burma. They are also one of the indigenous races of Burma under section (I) (II) and (III) of the Constitution of the Union of Burma of 24 September 1947, effected 4 January 1948. Being one of the indigenous communities of Burma, the Rohingyas were enfranchised in all the national elections of Burma: -during the later colonial period (1935-1948), during the democratic period (1948-1962), during the BSPP regime (1974-1988) and 1990 multi-party general election held by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). In their exercise of franchise, the Rohingya elected their representatives to the Legislative Assembly, to the Constituent Assembly, to the Parliament, to the People’s Assembly and People’s Councils of different levels.

Their representatives were appointed as cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries. As the sons of soil, they had their own political, cultural, social organizations. As an indigenous people of the Burma, they had their programme in their own language in the official Burma Broadcasting Services (BSS). Being one of the Burma’s racial groups, they participated in the official “Union Day’ celebration in Burma’s capital, Rangoon, every year. To satisfy part of their demand, the government granted them limited local autonomy and declared establishment of Mayu Frontier Administration (MFA), a special frontier district to be ruled directly by the central government.

In spite of that, for the last few decades, the Rohingyas have gone through unbelievable brutal oppression, torture and frequent massacres and genocide in their historical homeland of Arakan. Since 1948, expelling the Rohingyas from their ancestral land and properties has become almost a recurring phenomenon. About 1.5 million uprooted Rohingyas have taken shelters in many countries of the world since the anti-Muslim pogrom of 1942 in Arakan. Burma has been ruled by an autocrat or military junta since 1962. the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), a new name for State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), is bent on eradicating the Rohingyas by way of destroying everything that is Muslim’s or Islamic in the whole of the country. The Bumese successive regime has been deliberately tampering with the actual figure of the Rohingya people. They are engaged in a statistical genocide in an effort to make the Rohingya people look few, small and insignificant as a part of an evil design to deny them of their rights and prepare the minds of the peoples of the world for appalling consequences of genocide. They are also engaged in ethnic dilution to make demographic changes in Arakan with increasing new Buddhist settlements and pagodas in the whole of predominately Rohingya zone of North Arakan, so that it looks like a Buddhist land. This is a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. There have been planned and systematic efforts to dilute Rohingya with   Buddhist settlers who have gradually marginalized and elbowed the age-old Rohingya villagers out of their homes under the state patronage.

Under the military regime of General Ne Win, beginning 1962, the Rohingyas were labeled as illegal immigrants or Bangladeshi nationals. The 1974 Emergency Immigration Act deprived the Rohingyas of Burmese nationality. In 1978, Ne Win’s government launched an anti-Rohingya military operation in the name of checking illegal immigrant. About 300,000 Rohingyas had sought refuge across the border in southern Bangladesh amidst widespread reports of army brutality, rape and murder. In 1982, Ne Win redefined citizenship so that the Rohingya, who had inhabited in Arakan as early as 788, were now legally considered illegal aliens. In spite of their indigenous status recognized by the previous parliamentary governments, the Rohingyas were not listed among the so-called 135 ethnic nationalities of the country, recorded by the junta; with an ulterior motive to make them “stateless within the state”.

As a direct consequence of their lack of legal status the Rohingyas are deprived of freedom of movement. Travelling outside villages requires several passes, which they have to pay for and generally cannot afford. Lack of movement denies access to health facilities, higher education, employment opportunities, and markets. Added to forced labour, land confiscation, relocation, rape, murder, plunder, torture, ethnic dilution, and other abuses, the Rohingyas’s statelessness creates intolerable and dehumanising conditions that lead forced migrations.

In spite of the above reality, ever since Burmese independence in 1948, the Rohingyas have been struggling for their right of self-determination upholding the principle of peaceful co-existence within Burmese federation. They have long been trying to identify themselves with the Union of Burma on the basis of equality and justice. But their sincere and humble offer to revive traditional relation with Rahkines in Arakan and their aspiration to work with the Burmese democratic and oppositions forces for liberating Burma from the yoke of the military, in order to establish a genuine federal Union, still kept at bay.

Rohingya and ENSC Initiative

  1. We, the Rohingya people warmly welcome all the initiative of the Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee (ENSCC) including the national reconciliation and to the rebuilding of the Union of Burma as equal partners in the process.
  2. We, like ENSCC, believe that in order to establish a stable, peaceful and prosperous nation, the process of rebuilding the Union must be based on a democratic process which includes the following principles:
    • A peaceful resolution of the crisis in the Union;
    • The resolution of political problems through political dialogue;
    • Respect for the will of the people;
    • The recognition and protection of the rights of all citizens of the union;
    • The recognition and protection of the rights of the identity, language, religion, and cultural rights of all nationalities;
    • The recognition and protection of the rights of the constituent states of the Union through a federal arrangement;

Rohingya and Federal process

 

We, the Rohingya people, firmly believe that;

  1. The will of people shall be the basic authority of the government;
  2. The people should be free, equal, and enjoy the rights of self-determination;
  3. They shall have rights and freedoms as set forth in the constitution and the political process must be democratic;
  4. The society shall be organized as a federal union in which the constituent units are based on the principles of equality and self-determination;
  5. The territory of Burma shall be divided into National States and Nationalities States.
  6. National States shall be based  on the existing of a large national group, representing two thirds of the population and recognized as a historical group, with a common territory, language, customs, culture, and  a viable economy;
  7. Nationalities States shall be composed of two or more ethnic groups, none of which have two thirds of the population, a common territory and viable economy;
  8. National Autonomous Regions shall be formed inside States among nationalities, making up one fourth of the State population, living on historic lands,  each having a separate language, literature and culture;
  9. Special National Territories shall be formed in areas where the nationalities have a majority in the territory in the territory, a separate language, culture, and customs.

Rohingya and their rights

We, the Rohingyas, firmly believe that:

  1. The Rohingyas are an indigenous people characterized by objective criteria, such as historical continuity, and subjective factors including self-identification, which need to define an indigenous people, and entitled to have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Being indigenous peoples, they have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, economic, social and cultural characteristics, as well as their legal systems, while retaining their rights to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of State. They  have not only the right to a nationality but also have the right to their lands, territories and resources, which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spirituals traditions, histories and philosophies.
  2. The Rohingyas are much more than a national minority. They are a nation with a population of 3.5 million (both home and abroad), having a supporting history, separate culture, civilization, language and literature, historically settled territory and reasonable size of population and area – they consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the society. They are determined not only to preserve and develop their ancestral history and their ethnic identity, but also to transmit to future generations as the basis of their continued existence as people, in accordance with their own cultural pattern, social institution and legal system.
  3. The individual rights is not enough for us; we need our collective rights as a people, as an ethnic group, as a nationality who speak different language, who practice different culture, who worship different religion and who also has different historical background and, above all, all of us have territorially clearly defined homelands and nations since time immemorial.
  4. We want to rule our homeland by ourselves.
  5. We have to find a political and legal system which will allow us to rule our respective homelands by ourselves, and at same time living peacefully together with others who practice different religions and cultures and speak different languages.  In other words, we have to find a political system which can combine and balance between “self-rule” for different ethnic groups and “shared-rule” for all the peoples in the Union of Burma.
  6. We, together all the peoples of Arakan, shall have to convene a National Convention with the participation of all major ethnic groups of Arakan including the representatives of the minority groups to decide our future political, social, legal, administrative, and economy status, in free and fair atmosphere with out any outside intimidation.
  7. We, together all the peoples of Arakan, shall  have to work out the State Constitution of Arakan, the Supreme Law of our land and peoples, in preparation to secure the full rights of the peoples of Arakan.
  8. We, together all the peoples of Arakan, shall have to work out a draft with suggested provisions for the future constitution of the Federal States of Burma so that all constituent nationalities in the federated states shall fully secure their national rights.

Rohingyas and Arakan State Constitution

We would like to propose some vital provisions of Future Arakan State draft Constitution as follow:-

  1. Name:  Arakan Federal State
  2. Territory;
    • As per present day Arakan State (Seventeen Townships) `

                                                      Or

    • As per 1454 border demarcation agreement of Arakanese King Meng Khari alias Ali Khan and Ava King Ming Khaung:-

(The two sovereign Kings met at the Mount Nway Cho Pho Khaung of Arakan Yoma Ridge and signed the border demarcation agreement in April 1454. According to the agreement the demarcation line was drawn along the crest of Arakan Yoma ridge from the Northern tip down to Mawtin Edge (Cape Negaris). The oceanic island, Haigri, is included in the Arakanese territories.)

                                                                        Or

    • As per Yandabo Treaty (February 24 1826)

( As per  Burmese Version of Yandabo Treaty, Article 3rd – The country of Arakan is, Aracan (Arakan), Ramree, Man-oung (Cheduba), and Than-dwa, ……….Let the Yo-ma and Bokoung range of mountains, unto Great Pagoda, on the Man-ten (Mawtin) promontory (Cape Negrais) be the boundary.)

                                                                      Or

    • Present day Araka State, the area of Arakan Hill Tracts in according to the government of Burma Act, 1935, the southern part of Arakan that ceded to Irrawaddy Division of Burma by the previous government and other territories as may become included in Arakan.

                                        Or

    • Centre on the present day Arakan State with the exact boundaries of Arakan to be determined in the future.
  1. Form of State

Arakan is a Federal State made up of the following Ethnic Based Autonomous   States:

·         Rakhing Autonomous State

·         Rohingya Autonomous State

·         Mro, Khami, Chin and others Self-Administration Area

                            Or

Arakan is a Federation of the following Autonomous Regions:

·         Northern Autonomous State (Maung Daw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw)

·         Central Autonomous State (Pauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya, Ann)

·         Southern Autonomous State (Kyauk Pyu, Mannaung, Taungup, Sandoway, Gwa)

·         State Capital -   Akyab

                               Or

Arakan is a Federation of the following Autonomous Regions:

·         Northern Autonomous State (Maung Daw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Kyaktaw, Akyab)

·         Central Autonomous State (Pauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya, Ann)

·         Southern Autonomous State (Kyauk Pyu, Mannaung, Taungup, Sandoway, Gwa)

  1. Basic Principles

Arakan shall be a Federal democratic State;

·         All public authority emanates from the citizens.

·         All powers legislative, executive and judicial, are derived from the people and are exercisable on their behalf by, or on the authority of, the organs of the State or its constituent units established by this constitution.

·         Federal State shall be formed and based on equal rights and the right of self-determination of its Member Autonomous States/Regions in accordance with this Constitution.

·         The Federal State and its Members Autonomous States/Regions are obliged to conduct affairs of common interest with mutual loyalty and cooperativeness.

·         Governments shall be structured at state, regional and local levels.

·         At each level of government there shall be democratic representation.

·         The powers and functions of the state government and regional governments and boundaries of the regions shall be defined in the Constitution.

·         The powers and functions of the regions defined in the Constitution shall not be substantially less than or substantially inferior to those provided for in this Constitution.

·         The powers and functions at the state and regional levels of government shall include exclusive and concurrent powers as well as the power to perform functions for other levels of government on an agency or delegation basis.

·         Each level of government shall have appropriate and adequate powers and functions that will enable each level to function effectively. The allocation of powers between levels of government shall be made on a basis which is conducive to financial viability to each level of government and to effective public administration, and which recognizes the need for ad promotes national unity and legitimate regional autonomy and acknowledges cultural diversity.

·         There shall be representative government embracing multi-party democracy, regular elections, universal adult suffrage, a common voters’ roll, and in general, proportional representation.

·         The diversity of language and culture shall be acknowledged and protected, and conditions for their promotion shall be encouraged.

·         Provision shall be made for participation of minority political parties in the legislative process in a manner consistent with democracy.

·         The state government and regional governments shall have fiscal powers and functions which will be defined in the Constitution.

·         Each level of government shall have a constitutional right to an equitable share of revenue collected nationally so as to ensure that region and local governments are able to provide basic services and execute the functions allocated to them.

Conclusion

The ethnic Rohingya is one of the many nationalities of the union of Burma. They are fighting for their very survival as a people. They are struggling for their “ Rights of self-determination”: which will guarantees their collective rights; the right to rule theeir homeland by themselves, the right to practice their religious teaching and culture freely, the right to teach, learn and promote their language freely, and the right to up-hold their identity without fear and live peacefully together with others.

We, therefore, claims that the ultimate goal of our struggle is to establish a genuine Federal Union of Burma, which will guarantee democratic rights for all citizens, political equality for all nationalities and the rights of self-determination for all member states of the Union including the ethnic Rohingya.