The Rohingyas of Rakhine State: Social Evolution and History in the Light of Ethnic Nationalism

Author ORCID Identifier

Sarwar Minar:https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2694-3181

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Social Evolution and History



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In August 2017, over 725,000 Rohingya Muslims and Hindus were ousted from Rakhine State by the Tatmadaw as it undertook a brutal attack in response to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army's coordinated attacks on a military base and security force outposts resulting death of twelve. The UN finds Tatmadaw had sheer intent of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and referred the attack as a ‘textbook example’ of ethnic cleansing. These events provoked worldwide public-and-academic interest in history and social evolution of the Rohingyas, and this is to what the article is devoted. As the existing literature presents a debate over ‘Who are the Rohingyas?’, and ‘How legitimate is their claim over Rakhine State?’, the paper reinvestigates the issues using a qualitative research method. Compiling a detailed history, the paper finds that Rohingya community developed through historically complicated processes marked by invasions and counter-invasions. The paper argues many people entered Bengal from Arakan before British brought people into Rakhine state. The Rohingyas believe Rakhine State is their ancestral homeland and they developed a sense of ‘Ethnic Nationalism’. Their right over Rakhine State is as significant as other groups. The paper concludes that the UN must pursue solution to the crisis and the government should accept the Rohingyas as it did the land or territory.

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Arakan, Ethnic nationalism, History, Rakhine State, Rohingya


Department of Political Science