Ministry to write Myanmar’s ‘true history’ without Rohingya

An ethnic Rohingya Muslim refugee breaks down during a gathering in Kuala Lumpur. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2016
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Ministry to write Myanmar’s ‘true history’ without Rohingya

YANGON: Myanmar’s religious affairs ministry plans to write a book to prove the Rohingya are not indigenous to the country, as tensions grow over a brutal military crackdown on the Muslim minority.
Almost 27,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh since the beginning of November, the UN said Tuesday, fleeing a bloody military campaign in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.
Their stories of mass rape and murder at the hands of security forces have shocked the international community and cast a pall over the young government of Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar has angrily rejected the criticism and called an emergency ASEAN meeting next week to discuss the crisis, which has sparked protests in Muslim nations in the region.
Late Monday, the country’s Ministry of Religion and Cultural Affairs announced plans to write a thesis to refute foreigners who “stir things up by insisting the Rohingya exist and (who) aim to tarnish Myanmar’s political image.”
“We hereby announce that we are going to publish a book of true Myanmar history,” the ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook late Monday.
“The real truth is that the word Rohingya was never used or existed as an ethnicity or race in Myanmar’s history.”
Myanmar’s more than one million Rohingya are loathed by many from the Buddhist majority, who say they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and refer to them as “Bengali” even though many have lived in the country for generations.
Even the term Rohingya has become so divisive that Suu Kyi has asked government officials to avoid using it.
According to the ministry, the term was first used in 1948 by a “Bengali” MP.
Rights activists say the Rohingya are among the most persecuted people in the world.
They were removed as one of the country’s recognized ethnicities by the former military government under a 1982 law stipulating minorities must have lived in Myanmar before the first Anglo-Burmese war of 1824-26.
But Rohingya and Muslim historians reject the idea that they were slaves brought by the British, arguing their roots in Rakhine can be traced back hundreds of years.
More than 120,000 Rohingya were driven into displacement camps by sectarian clashes in 2012, where they live in conditions that rights groups have compared to apartheid South Africa.


At least 134 Fulani herders killed in central Mali’s worst violence yet

Members of the Malian Army (Fama), patrol in Anderamboukane, in Menaka region, on March 22, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 min 14 sec ago
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At least 134 Fulani herders killed in central Mali’s worst violence yet

  • Some 4,500 French troops remain based in the wider Sahel, most of them in Mali

BAMAKO: Gunmen killed at least 134 Fulani herders in central Mali on Saturday, a local mayor said, the deadliest such attack of recent times in a region reeling from worsening ethnic and jihadist violence.
The assaults on the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara took place as a UN Security Council mission visited Mali seeking solutions to violence that killed hundreds of civilians last year and is spreading across West Africa’s Sahel region.
Moulaye Guindo, mayor of the nearby town of Bankass, said armed men, dressed as traditional Donzo hunters, encircled and attacked Ogossagou at about 4 a.m. (0400 GMT).
“We are provisionally at 134 bodies recovered by the gendarmes,” Guindo told Reuters by telephone from Ogossagou.
He said another nearby Fulani village, Welingara, had also been attacked, causing “a number” of deaths, but he did not yet know how many.
Security sources said the dead included pregnant women, children and elderly people.
One Ogossagou resident, who asked not to be identified, said the attack appeared to be in retaliation for an Al-Qaeda affiliate’s claim of responsibility on Friday for a raid last week that killed 23 soldiers.
That group said that raid was payback for violence by Mali’s army and militiamen against the Fulani.
Jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Daesh have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger in recent years to boost recruitment and render vast swathes of territory virtually ungovernable.
French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the desert north but the militants have since regrouped and expanded their presence into central Mali and the neighboring countries.
Some 4,500 French troops remain based in the wider Sahel, most of them in Mali. The United States also has hundreds of troops in the region.
Security Council ambassadors met with Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and other government officials on Friday evening to discuss the violence and the slow implementation of a 2015 peace agreement with non-Islamist armed groups.
“Clear sense of frustration among many Security Council members at pace of implementation of Mali Peace Agreement,” Britain’s representative on the mission, Stephen Hickey, wrote on Twitter. “Security Council prepared to impose sanctions on those who impede its implementation.”