Panthay; Burmese Chinese Muslims

Continue reading

Panthay; Latest diaspora Part 2

Panthay; Latest diaspora

Latest diaspora

The demise of the Sultanate had shattered the hopes of all the Panthays for a bright future in their own Islamic kingdom in Yunnan. The blood-bath that occurred in its wake had made the decision for many Panthays: to flee the country for those who could make it, and not to return to Yunnan for those who were already outside. In the first category were the refugees in the Wa State, and in the second were those who were in Mandalay at the time the Sultanate fell. As has been said earlier, the Panthays in Mandalay had left their families behind when they set out for Burma. These Panthay businessmen now realized that it would be at least some years before they would see their families in China again. Thus, many of them started raising second families in Mandalay by taking Burmese Muslim wives. This explains why most of the first-generation Panthays of Mandalay had non-Chinese wives and why their descendants today are Burmanized. In later years, when things became more favorable, these early Panthays of Mandalay alternated their stay between their Chinese and Burmese wives.

[edit] Colonel Mah Too-tu settled in Mandalay for good

Colonel Mah Too-tu found himself in the same situation. When he came to Mandalay with the mission to build the Panthay Mosque, he left his family behind in Yunnan. When the mission had been accomplished, he was assigned by the Sultan to take charge of the Panthay business enterprise at Taryedan.[27] When the Sultanate fell, Mah Too-tu was stranded at Mandalay. For a man of his rank and stature, going back to Tali-fu meant sure execution by the Manchu authorities. Mah Too-tu had no other alternative but to settle down in Mandalay. Since November 1868 he had bought a plot of land with a house on it for 80 pieces of one-kyat coins from Khunit Ywa-sa Princess.[28] The plot happened to be at the southwest corner of the land granted by King Mindon to the Panthays (corner of’ 36th and 80th Street). The addition of Mah Too-tu’s plot made the Panthay compound into a full square. On 7 June, 1873, Mah Too- tu married Shwe Gwe, a lady from Sagyin-wa village near Amarapura, who happened to be the daughter of a princess of Manipur brought to Mandalay as a captive by the Burmese king.[29] Mah Too-tu spent the last years of his life at the Panthay Compound with his Burmese wife.

[edit] Panthays established in Mandalay

After the mass exodus from Yunnan, the number of Panthays residing in Mandalay gradually increased. The new arrivals, usually families, came by way of Bhamo or via the Wa State. When the land for the Panthays was granted by King Mindon, there were a few houses on it, in addition to several old graves.[30] This shows that the place had been an abandoned graveyard. In the years immediately following the completion of the mosque, the number of houses in the Panthay Compound was less than twenty. There were also between ten and twenty Panthay households living in other parts of Mandalay. But a trickle of new arrivals added to their number.

The establishment of the Panthay Mosque in 1868 marked the emergence of the Chinese Muslims as a distinct community at Mandalay. Although the number of this first generation of Panthays remained small, the Mosque, which is still standing, constitutes a historic landmark. It signifies the beginning of the first Panthay Jama’at (Congregation) in Mandalay Ratanabon Naypyidaw.

[edit] Early 20th century

Over the next thirty or so years the Panthays of Panglong continues to prosper, though by the early 1920s a feud had begun to develop between them and the Was of neighbouring Pankawn. In 1926 this erupted into the local “Wa Panthay War”, in which the latter were victorious and as a result of which Panglong threw off its vassalage to Pangkawn and reinforced its dominance over the trade routes of the region31. In addition to legitimate trading, by this time the Panthays, of Panglong were securely established as ‘the aristocrats of the opium business’ in the region now commonly designated the Golden Triangle, leaving the Petty and risky business of peddlings this highly profitable commodity locally to Shan and Han Chinese dealers, and instead running large, well-armed caravans in long-distance convoys far into Siam, Laos, Tonking and Yunnan. When Harvey visited Panglong in 1931 he found that Panthay numbers had risen to 5,000 (‘including local recruits’), that they were financed by Singaporean Chinese, had 130 mauser rifles with 1,500 mules, and exported opium by the hundredweight into French, Siamese and British territory, each muleload escorted by two riflemen.

Meanwhile, despite the relative importance of Panglong and the profits to be made from the long-distance caravan, other Panthays moved further into Burma, initially as miners anxious to exploit the ruby mines of Mogok; the Badwin silver mines of Namtu in the Northern Shan State, the jade mines of Mogaung in Kachin State. Numbers of Panthay restaurateurs and innkeepers, merchants and traders settled in the urban centres of upland Burma – chiefly at Lashio, Kengtung, Bhamo and Taunggyi – to service the needs of theses miners, passing caravaneers and the local inhabitants, whilst other settlements largely devoted to trade with the indigenous Shan and Karen populations sprang up along the Salween River. Finally, other Panthay elements moved to the major urban centres of the Burmese lowlands, most notably to Mandalay and Rangoon, where they flourished as merchants and representatives of their up – country fellows, as well as middle-men between Panglong and the other “Overland Chinese” settlements of Upper Burma and the “Overseas Chinese” community of the lowland port-cities. Bassein and Moulmein must also have attracted some Panthay settlement, the latter port being a terminus of the overland caravan trade from Yunnan in its own right, via the northern Thai trade route through Kengtung, Chiang Mai and Mae Sariang.

During the greater part of the period of British rule in Burma these Panthay settlers flourished, specialising in all levels of commerce from the international gem (and opium) markets to shop – and inn-keeping, mule-breeding and peddling or hawking – indeed Yunnanese peddlars (who may or may not have been Muslim) even penetrated into the unadministered and inaccessible hill tracts of “The Triangle” between Mali Hka and Nmai Hka, to the north of Myitkyina]]. Chiefly, however, beyond the urban centres of the Burmese lowlands, the Panthays continued their involvement in the caravan trade with Yunnan, transporting silk, opium, tea, metal goods and foodstuffs (eggs, fruit, nut and even the renowned Yunnanese hams (doubtless for consumption by their Han fellow countrymen) from China to Burma, and carrying back European manufactured goods, broadcloths, specialised foodstuffs (edible birds nests, sea slugs) and above all raw cotton, to Yunnan.

Because of the essentially itinerant nature of this caravan traffic and the semi-licit or illegal nature of some aspects of the trans-frontier trade, it has always been difficult to provide accurate statistics for the distribution and numbers of “Panthay” Chinese settled in Burma, Indeed, rejection of the term “Panthay” by the Chinese Muslims, relatively easy confusion between Hui and Han Chinese by uninformed or overworked census officials, and an inherent suspicion of government bureaucracy (which may seek to control movement or to levy taxes) has made accurate census-taking amongst the Panthay of Burma all but impossible. Thus, in 1931 Harvey estimated the population of Panglong (which was predominantly Panthay) at 5,000 persons. Yet official estimates put the Panthay population of Burma at 2,202 for 1911 (1,427 males and 775 females), whilst by the 1921 Census of India this had declined to 1,517 (1,076 males and 441 females), and by 1931 to 1,106 (685 males and 421 females).

[edit] World War II and independence

A Census for 1941 was never taken, being interrupted by World War II and the Japanese invasion; indeed, it was as a result of the Japanese invasion the main Panthay settlement at Panglong was destroyed, and many Panthay fled to Yunnan, or crossed the largely unpoliced jungle frontiers into Thailand and Laos to escape Japanese persecution. The traditional dominance of Panthay in the trade of the Burma-Yunnan frontier region was also set back by the construction of the Burma Road between Lashio and Kunming in 1937-38, and by the exodus of thousands of Yunnanese refugees and Kuomintang troops following the seizure of power by the Chinese Communists in 1949. As a result of these developments, which brought a flood of predominantly Han, and not Hui, “Overland Chinese” to the Burmese Shan States, many Panthay seem to have chosen to migrate to northern Thailand, where their communities continue to flourish.

No comprehensive census of the remaining Panthay population within Burma has been taken since 1931, and restrictions on travel for foreigners, combined with the inherent weakness of central government control over those outlying areas of the Shan and Kachin Hills where many Panthays live, makes any attempt to calculate Burma’s present (1986) Panthay population almost impossible (though an exaggerated estimate of 100,000 Panthays resident within Burma appeared in the Burmese daily Hanthawaddi in 1960. Certainly readily identifiable Panthay communities continue to exist in several areas which are open to foreign travel (Rangoon, Mandalay, Taunggyi), as well as, by report, in Kengtung, Bhamo, Mogok, Lashio and at Tanyan, near Lashio. Wherever they have settled in sufficient numbers, the Panthays have established their own mosques and madrasas (for example the Panthay Balee at Mandalay Short Lane, Rangoon, at Mandalay and in Myitkyina). Some of these mosques are in “pseudo-Moghul” style, clearly having been influenced by Indian Muslim tastes and styles, whilst others (notably at Mandalay) have Chinese architectural features. As with the Hui in China, the Burmese Panthay are exclusively Hanafi; few are conversant with more than the most elementary phrases of Arabic, and quite often when a Panthay imam is not available to care for the spiritual welfare of a community, a South Asian or Zerbadi Muslim is engaged instead.

[edit] Present Panthays in Myanmar

Panthays are spread over many parts of Myanmar with their mosques in Yangon, Taungyi, Lashio, Tangyang, Kyaington, Pyin-Oo-Lwin, Myitkyina and Mogok.[31]

[edit] References

  1. ^ (Scott, 1900, 607)

  2. ^ (Yule & Burnell, 1968, 669)

  3. ^ (Forbes, 1987, 292)

  4. ^ (Forbes, 1987, 290)

  5. ^ (Forbes, 1987,193)

  6. ^ (Anderson, 1876, 2)

  7. ^ (The Sladen Report, 1871, 7)

  8. ^ (The Sladen Report, 1871, 4)

  9. ^ (Anderson, 1876, 4)

  10. ^ (Forbes 1987, 293)

  11. ^ (Ba Shin, 1962, 2)

  12. ^ (Ba Shin, 1961, 2)

  13. ^ (Anderson, 1876, 233)

  14. ^ (Anderson, 1876, 233)

  15. ^ (Anderson, 1876, 343)

  16. ^ (Anderson, 1876, 242)

  17. ^ (Interview with U Aung Myint)

  18. ^ (Interview with Haji U Ba Thi alias Haji Adam (born 11 October, 1908) a Panthay elder who had served for many years as chairman of the Trust of ‘the Panthay Mosque, on 15 October, 1997.)

  19. ^ (Interview with Haji U Ba Thi)

  20. ^ (Sladen Report, 1876,5)

  21. ^ (Thaung, 1961, 481)

  22. ^ (Thaung, 1961, 481)

  23. ^ (Thaung, 1961, 481)

  24. ^ (Anderson, 1876, 243)

  25. ^ (Thaung, 1961, 482)

  26. ^ (Scott, 1901, 740)

  27. ^ (Interview with Haji U Ba Thi)

  28. ^ (Family Parabaik)

  29. ^ (Than Tun, 1968, 19)

  30. ^ (Interview with Haji U Ba Thi)

  31. ^ Message from Maung Ko Ghaffari, Chief Editor, Light of Islam Magazine, Myanmar in Feb. 2007

[edit] Bibliography

1. Anderson, John, Mandalay to Momien: A Narrative of the Two Expeditions to Western China of 1868 and 1875 (London: Macmillan, 1876).
2. Ba Shin, Lt. Colonel, “Coming of Islam to Burma Down to l700 AD.,” Asian History Congress (New Delhi: Azad Bhavan, 1961).
3. Forbes, D.W., “The Role of Hui Muslims in the Traditional Caravan Trade between Yunnan and Thailand,” Asian Merchants and Businessmen in the Indian Ocean and the China sea: 13-20 Centuries(French Journal published under the direction of Denys Lombard & Jean Aubin), (Paris: School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences, 1987).
4. Kaye, J.W., Major Sladen’s Report on the Bhamo Route, (In Continuation of’ Parliamentary Paper No. 251, of Session 1868-9), (London: India Office, 1871), Microfilm copy.
5. Scott, J. George, GUBSS, 1, i ( Rangoon Government Printing, 1900).
6. ibid GUBSS, ii, ii (Rangoon- Government Printing, 1901).
7. Thaung, Dr., “Panthay Interlude in Yunnan: A Study in Vicissitudes Through the Burmese Kaleidoscope,” JBRS Fifth Anniversary Publications No. 1 (Rangoon Sarpy Beikman, 1961).
8. Yule, Col. Henry & Burnell, A. C., Hobson-Jobson- A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical And Discursive (Delhi-.Munshiran Manoharlal, 1968), Reprint.
9. Than Tun, Dr. (Professor of History), History on Tour, 111, (In Myanmar) (Yangon Nantha House, August 1968).
10. Parabaik dated 13 November, 1868 containing a short account of’ Mah Too-tu’s purchase of land and house from Khunit Ywa-sa Princess (a family parabaik of the writer).
11. Interview with U Aung Myint (aged 75), a higher grade pleader, before the war, and buildingcontractor after the war, on 11 December, 1987. Although a Myanmar Buddhist, U Aung Myint wasvery friendly with Khala Kyawt, a Myanmar Muslim who had lived in the Panthay Compound formany years in the pre-war days and who had in her possession a parabaik manuscript on the Tayoktan quarrel between the Chinese and the Panthays, and the circumstances leading to the granting of land by King Mindon for the residence of Panthays and the construction of the Parithay Mosque. U Aung Myint had personally read this parabaik, which, unfortunately was destroyed by fire during the war. U Aung Myint had lived close to the Panthay Compound before the war and the house in which he had lived is said to be inside the Panthay Compound at one time.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

  • Myanmar Muslim Information Centre (MMIC)-[2]

  • Burma Digest Bo Aung Din’s Letter 11- About Myanmar Muslims. and Myanmar Indian Muslims. [3]

  • Burma Digest Bo Aung Din’s Letter 10- Myanmar Muslims, Myanmar Chinese Muslims and Migrants. [4]

  • Burma Digest Bo Aung Din’s Letter 9- Myanmar Muslims.[5]

  • Myanmar Muslim news- [6]

  • Burmese Muslims Network- [7]

  • Islamic Unity Brotherhood [8]

  • Myanmar Muslim political Awareness Organization- [9]

  • Panthay on line community- [10]

  • Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [11]

  • US Department of State, International Religious Freedom Report 2005 on Burma [12]

  • US Department of State, Burma, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2005

  • Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor [13]

  • Amnesty International’s report on Burma [14]

  • UK Conservatives’ Human Rights [15]

  • Refusal of Identity Cards for Burmese Muslims [16][17]

  • Refusal of Identity Cards for Burmese Muslims [18]

  • Racial Discriminations on Burmese Muslims [19][20]

  • Human Rights issues in Burma [21]

  • PRAYERS FOR BURMA [22]

  • Priestly, Harry. “The Outsiders“, The Irrawaddy, 2006-01. Retrieved on 200607-07. 

  • Butkaew, Samart. “Burmese Indians: The Forgotten Lives“, Burma Issues, 2005-02. Retrieved on 200607-07. 

  • The Persecution of Muslims in Burma, by Karen Human Rights Group

Continue reading

Burmese Indians

  Burmese Indians

Shri Kali Temple in Yangon

The Burmese Indians (Burmese: MLCTS: ku. la: lu myui:) are a group of overseas Indians from Myanmar (formerly Burma). They form approximately 2% (about 950,000) [1] on the CIA World Factbook 2006. of the population, although exact figures do not exist due to intermarriage between Indians and other ethnic groups.

Contents

[hide]

//

History

The term “Burmese Indian” refers to a broad range of ethnic groups from South Asia, most notably from present-day Bangladesh and India. The widely-accepted term ka-la, however, is considered derogatory. Its root is believed to be ku la meaning either “to cross over (the Bay of Bengal)” or “person” depending on the way it is pronounced.[2] According to the History Professor U Than Tun, the ‘Kala’ is derived from “Ku lar” meaning the people who adhere to a caste system.[3] Their association with foreign rule and repression in the form of colonial courts, police [4] and Sepoys under the command of the British has been mainly responsible for a lasting animosity compounded by the more obvious difference in their physical appearance, unlike the Chinese who also happen to be Buddhists and historically regarded by the Bamar as their cousins. White Europeans were also called kala hpyu (white kala) before British rule became established.[5]The Indian was seen to be subservient and loyal to the white man giving rise to the expression, Myin oungun, kyun kala, maya tawthu – “a chestnut for a horse, a kala for a slave and a village girl for a wife”. [citation needed]

The majority of Indians arrived in Burma whilst it was part of British India as indentured labourers, civil servants, engineers, river pilots and traders. [6] It was perhaps the Tamil-speaking Chettiars (moneylenders) who did the most damage to the Indians’ standing in Burmese eyes.[5][7] They came in when the rice trade boomed after the opening of the Suez Canal [8], but when depression hit in 1930 and the price of rice plummeted, they foreclosed on the peasants confiscating land and livestock. [9] This led to a peasant uprising that became known as The Galon Rebellion led by a former monk called Saya San and eventually subdued by bringing in more Indian Sepoys. Widespread riots also broke out in Rangoon when the port authorities tried to break an Indian dockers strike by bringing in Burmese workers.[7] [10] Many Indians in Myanmar live in large cities such as Yangon (Rangoon), and in post-British hill towns such as Pyin U Lwin (formerly Maymyo). In Pyin U Lwin, we could still find many Burmese-Indians.

British colony Burma

During the British colonial administration of Burma, Indian Immigrants were brought in to run the almost all of the Government Services and to run the British companies. They also formed the military and civilian staff of the British Army and Burma Police Force. Some of them were clerks, almost in all the fields of manpower (skilled and unskilled). Others were doctors, engineers, hospital and medical workers, teachers, Burma Railway staff, river shipping staff, Post office staff and rice mill staff. Some were staff and workers for; mines, oil fields, banks, shops, treasury and Public Administration office. As private civilians, they also came in as; traders, various type of shop owners, servants, launders (dhobi), hotel and restaurant owners, dispatch boys, watchmen etc.[11]

Origin of Burmese Indians

[edit] Tamils

Tens of thousands of Tamil people from Tamil Nadu came to work in Burma during the British colonial rule. Telugu and Hindi speaking workers also migrated at that time. Burmese Tamils (Myanmar Tamils) had their own Tamil language magazines for local and Tamil Nadu news, schools for teaching Tamil, and movie theaters for screening Tamil movies imported from India. Telugu and Hindi speakers also had similar institutions and facilities. The “immigrant population”, although many had been living there for generations and have integrated with the Burmese society, became a target for discrimination and oppression by the new government formed after the military coup in 1962. The Myanmar Military Government closed down the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi magazines, schools, except for schools that were operated from temples and houses.[12]

“A report dated March 1966 from Burma states:

  • Tamil population 200,000

  • Telegu population 50,000

  • Malayalee population 5,000

About 50 primary schools are conducted by Tamils. The Rasika Ranjani and Thondan, two Tamil dailies have been banned since January 1966. There are over 40 Hindu temples founded and administered by Tamils in Burma, and two Tamil Catholic parishes. The Nattukkotai Chettiars administer Thendayuthapani temples in 32 towns.” ” Our Tamilians along with other Indians are leaving Burma for good.”[13][14] There are many South Indian Temples all over Rangoon or Yangoon, but like all buildings, they are not well maintained. Even today South Indian restaurants in Burma are called Chetty Restaurants because Chettiar are also Tamils . Food is plentiful and very cheap. Burma is the only place in the world where Tamil writings and language is a kind of banned! The remaining Tamils, around 500,000 have adapted themselves, embraced Buddhist ways in addition to Hinduism, speak Burmese and dress in Burmese style. Indians are also needed to adopt Burmese names to avoid blatant outright discriminations.[15] Tamil muslims are called Chulias. Some of them come from Madaras and called Madarasi. They are metal-tool merchants.[16]

[edit] Chettiars

Chettiars are also known as Chetti, Chetty, Chety, Shetty or Setti. The first Chettiars arrived Burma during the British rule – in 1826 accompanying Indian troops and labourers during the British campaign in Tenasserim in the first Aglo-Burmese war.[17] Their activities, however, were petty and remained so even after the first formal Chettiar ‘office’ was established in Moulmein in 1850.[18] It was, however, the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the passing of the Burma Land Act brought about the mass entry of Chettiars into Burma. By 1880 the Chettiars had fanned out throughout Burma and by the end of the century they had become by far the ‘the most important factor in the agricultural credit structure of Lower Burma’.[19] By 1905 there were about 30 Chettiar offices in Burma. According to the Burma Provincial Banking Enquiry Report (BPBE), the most dependable source on the extent of Chettiar operations, this number had increased to 1,650 by 1930.[20] Conveying more graphically the ubiquity of Chettiar offices, the BPBE concluded (1930a:203) that in ‘nearly every well-populated part of Lower Burma there is a Chettiar within a day’s journey of every cultivator’.

A community of moneylenders indigenous to Chettinad, Tamil Nadu,the Chettiars operated throughout the Southeast Asian territories of the British Empire. They played a particularly prominent role in Burma where, they were typically demonised as rapacious usurers, responsible for all manner of vices concomitant with the colonial economy. Not least of these was the chronic land alienation of the Burmese cultivator. Their role was crucial in the dramatic growth in Burma’s agricultural output during the colonial era. Success of the Chettiars in Burma lay less in the high interest rates they charged, than it did to patterns of internal organisation that provided solutions to the inherent problems faced by financial intermediaries. A proper functioning financial system could have provided better solutions perhaps for Burma’s long-term development, but Burma did not have such a system, then. Tersely and pointedly speaking, Chettiar banks are fiery dragons that parch every land that has the misfortune of coming under their wicked creeping..[21]

Without the assistance of the Chettiar banking system Burma would never have achieved the wonderful advance of the last 25 to 30 years…The Burman today is a much wealthier man than he was 25 years ago; and for this state of affairs the Chettiar deserves his thanks.[22]

The Chettiars were the crucial providers of the capital that turned Burma into the ‘rice-bowl’ of the British Empire. But they were seen as the moneylenders, vilified as predatory usurors whose purpose was to seize the land of the Burmese cultivator. The truth was that the Chettiars were the primary providers of capital to Burmese cultivators through much of the colonial period, but the combination of the collapse of paddy prices in the Great Depression, the Chettiar insistence of land as collateral, and the imposition of British land-title laws, did bring about a substantial transfer of Burma’s cultivatable land into their hands. The Chettiars did not charge especially high interest rates and, indeed, their rates were much lower than indigenous moneylenders. In the end the Chettiars were expelled from Burma, in the process losing the land they had acquired and much of their capital.

Chettiars had the role in the reclamation of the Irrawaddy Delta for rice growing. Burma’s emergence as the ‘rice-bowl’ of the British Empire came as a result of what J S Furnivall (1956:116) memorably lauded as the ‘epic bravery and endurance’ of the country’s cultivators in reclaiming the swamps and jungles of the Irrawaddy Delta. An epic motivated by Burma’s entry into the commercial imperatives of the British Empire, the conversion of the Delta into rich paddy-producing land initially required little capital. Britain’s great ‘exchange banks’ took care of shipping, milling and other export-finance needs, and up until the middle of the nineteenth century the amount of capital required ‘on the ground’ in land preparation was slight. As Adas (1974b:389)noted,[23]in the early years of British rule in ‘Lower Burma’ the growth in rice exports was founded on cheap and surplus labour within cultivator families, and upon abundant land that required little more than clearing.[24]

[edit] Brahmans

Brahmans are known as Ponnas in Burmese. They are priests and scholars of the highest ranking group or most purified among the cast system in India. Ancient Burmese Kings up to the present Military Rulers and most of the Myanmar Citizens used to rely them for advise as they are famous in Astrology and Palmistry. Burmese Kings used the service of the “White Ponna” and “Dark Ponna” as consultants for any advise in daily events up to the administration of the country e.g. for the Royal customs, rules and regulations. Sometimes they were given the post of the Royal Ministers. In Burmese folk tales and religious stories, they were usually portrayed as villains.

The Buddhist kings of Indo-China had borrowed from Hinduism much of their court ceremonial. In Burma, Siam, Cambodia and Champa, and in a host of smaller states, Brahman astrologers and soothsayers were masters of the ceremonies. As interpreters of the omens and repositories of ancient tradition their influence was great.[25]

[edit] Hindi

The “Hindi” are the people who speak Hindi language which is an Indo-Aryan language. There are conflicts between the Urdu speakers (mostly Muslims) and the Hindi speakers (mostly Hindus). The Hindi speakers are divided into a number of ethnic and social groups. The Hindus, who constitute the largest group, are divided into four main social groups called “castes”, a hierarchical order based on the principles of “purity and pollution”,as below_

  • Brahmans, the priests and scholars

  • Kshatriyas, the rulers and warriors

  • Vaisyas, the merchants and professionals

  • Sudras, the laborers and servants

These four castes have many sub-castes, which are further divided into circles. Castes are culture groups, based not only on occupations, but also on customs, manners, and habits. The majority of the Hindi speakers are Hindus, which is considered more a lifestyle than a religion. Hindus worship a pantheon of gods. They believe that sacrifices and offerings must be made to the gods regularly to appease them and avoid calamity. Hinduism teaches that the soul never dies. When the body dies, the soul is reborn or “reincarnated.” The soul may be reborn as an animal or as a human. They worship some gods in the form of animals. Cows are considered sacred, but other animals are also revered. The law of “karma” states that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next reincarnation. If a person lives a good life, the soul will be born into a higher state. If a person leads an evil life, the soul will be born into a lower state.

The Muslim Hindi-speaking women still follow the tradition of purdah, which is the covering of their entire bodies, especially their eyes, as a sense of seclusion. However, purdah is practiced to varying degrees depending on the extent of westernization and urbanization.

[edit] Bengali

The Bengali came from Bengal region, that is Bangladesh and West Bengal, a state in India. Their native language is Bengali. Their culture remains diversified e.g. from various castes, such as the Brahman, Kayastha, Vaidya, Namasudra, Gandha Banik, Saadgop, Napit, Mahisya, Kanaani, and Subarnabanik. Their occupations and religions had created other cultural distinctions as well. The majority of Bengalis are Muslims (60%), while the rest are Hindu or Hinduized animists. The Bengali of Bangladesh are the largest group and are 99.9% Mulsims.

Bengali Hindu worship many gods. Cows, monkeys, snakes, and many other animals are sacred. They teach and practice yoga and believed in reincarnation (a continual cycle of death and rebirth). The law of karma states that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next life. The cycle continues until spiritual perfection is achieved. Then the soul enters moksha, a new level of existence, from which it never returns.

Some of them are staying near the Myanmar- Bangladesh border and Mawlamyaing City, Mon State.

Bengalis from Chittagong are famous as sailors and took over river shipping in Burma. [26]

[edit] Gujarati and Soorti

The Gujarati came from the state of Gujarat, western India. Their language is Gujarati. They are a complex group, speaking various dialects and having many cultural distinctions. Some of these differences are based on region, while others are based on their “caste”. They are often involved in trade or in operating small businesses.

The Hindus, who make up the largest group, are divided into a number of castes or jatis. They practice purdah i.e. the women are required to wear veils and remain isolated.

Approximately 30% of them are Muslims and those Gujarati Muslims are called Soorti. There are a lot of Soorti in Burma/Myanmar. Most of them are well to do merchants [27] and entrepreneurs and industrialists.

[edit] Orisi or Oriya

While there are 25 million Orisi in India, some of them migrated to Bangladesh and Burma. The Orisi speak an Indo-Aryan language called Oriya and also known as Oriya. United Nations ex-Secretary General U Thant’s father is an Oriya.

Almost all the Oriya are Hindu. They used to pray to the deities, the “disease spirits,” and the village gods. Gunias (magicians) practice witchcraft and sorcery. Extensive rituals and festivals are celebrated throughout the land. The Orisi believe that sickness is placed on people by evil spirits and witches. They also sustain the belief that planets and stars in the zodiac are responsible for an individual’s physical and mental condition. They look to herbal folk medicines, exorcisms, and the gunias for cures from these and other illnesses. The Orisi believe that death is simply a passing from one life into the next. They believe that this cycle of death and rebirth will continue until the spirit merges with the person’s “absolute soul.” They believe that Yama, the god of justice, sends the soul to heaven or hell.

[edit] Gurkhas

Gurkha, also spelt as Gorkha, are people from Nepal who take their name from the eighth century Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath. His disciple Bappa Rawal later moved further east to found the house of Gorkha, which in turn founded the Kingdom of Nepal.Many Gurkhas or Nepalese migrated out of Nepal and settled in various parts of northern India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. They speak Khas Kura language. Like other Hindu, the Nepalese belong to a “caste” structure which has only two categories: upper class landowners and lower class servants. Most of the Nepalese in Myanmar are farmers and most of them own the lands. They grew wet rice, dry rice, maize, millet, wheat and vegetable. Most of the farmers raise buffalo and goats for meat and cows for milk. Nepalese villages consist of loosely grouped homes surrounded by farm land. Some of them are staying in larger towns where the temples or monasteries are located.

Almost all of the Nepalese in Myanmar are Hindus, worshipping many gods. They believe in ghosts and demons. Many Gurkha or Nepalese arrived Burma with the British India Army. Gurkhas are best known for their history of bravery and strength in the British Army Brigade of Gurkhas and the Indian Army. They were designated by the British as a Martial Race. Martial Race is a designation created by officials of British India to describe “races” (peoples) that were thought to be naturally warlike and aggressive in battle, and to possess qualities like courage, loyalty, self sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness, hard working, fighting tenacity and military strategy. The British recruited heavily from these Martial Races for service in the colonial army.

Gurkhas Regiments served in the Second World War, most notably in Malaya and Burma where the Allies suffered the intense attacks from the Japanese. They had a heavy fighting in 1944 in the Arakan and during the Japanese offensive from March to June 1944 against north-east India at Kohima and Imphal. Imphal was besieged by the Japanese until the Allies achieved a decisive victory at Kohima in June and the Japanese fled back into Burma. The Regiment continued with the successful Allied offensive into Burma and on the 3 May the Burmese capital Rangoon was liberated. Gurkha soldiers have won 13 Victoria Crosses. Ethnically, Gurkhas who are presently serving in the British armed forces are Indo-Tibeto-Mongolians. Gurkhas serving in the Indian Armed Forces are of both groups, Indo-Tibeto-Mongolian and ethnic Rajput. Gurkhas of Indo-Tibeto-Mongolian origin mostly belong to the Gurung, Magar, Tamang, Khasa and Kiranti origin, many of whom are adherents of Tibetan Buddhism and Shamanism. [28]

All Gurkhas, regardless of ethnic origin, speak Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language. They are also famous for their large knife called the khukuri.

[edit] Punjabis

The majority of the Punjabi live in India and Pakistan; but they can also be found in nearly thirty other countries. Punjabi is an Indo-European language that is divided into six main dialects. It is primarily spoken in the major regions of India and Pakistan. Those who speak Punjabi language or those who inhabit the Punjab region are called Punjabi.

It is commonly said among the Punjabi that “land, women, and water are the sources of all conflicts.” This simply means that they deem it necessary to control the means by which one perpetuates his family and property. The Diaspora Punjabi reflect the three major religions of their homeland: Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism. Most of the Diaspora Punjabi speakers are Sikhs, except for those in Myanmar, who are mostly atheists. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that was founded in northern India during the sixteenth century. Its teachings have combined the elements of both Hinduism and Islam in an attempt to find one god who transcends all religious distinctions.[29]

In March 1944, the Japanese 31st Division moved northwestward in Burma’s Naga hills and invaded Imphal and Kohima in India. Finally, after 64 days, amid terrible losses on both sides, the Japanese were beaten back. The determination and gallantry shown by allied troops in the Kohima siege was quick to become the subject of poem, song, and legend.Today in the Kohima cemetery, among the 1,378 grave markers, is the famous Kohima Memorial with its historic inscription:

“When you go home
Tell them of us, and say,
For your tomorrow
We gave our today”

The Burma Star Association was founded in 1951 by Admiral the Lord Louis Mountbatten, Field Marshal the Viscount Slim and other British Veterans of the Burma Campaigns. Admiral Mountbatten had been CinC of the Allied Southeast Asia Command (SEAC) with the late General Joseph C. “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell as Deputy CinC. Stillwell was also the Commander of the U.S. China-Burma-India Theater of Operations and Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-sheck for all Chinese forces in the CBI. Then General William Slim Commanded the British XIV Army in India and Burma. Following the total defeat of Japanese Imperial forces in Southeast Asia General Slim is said to have told his troops: “When you go home don’t worry about what to tell your loved ones and friends about service in Asia. No one will know where you were, or where it is if you do. You are, and will remain ‘The Forgotten Army.’”

Reunions were held by various units (UK) in England and the China-Burma-India Veterans Association was formed in the U.S. In 1950 only, Admiral Montbatten started the Burma Star Organization. Admiral Mountbatten became the first patron, an honor held until his death by assassination in 1979. Current Royal Patron is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The first president was Field Marshal the Viscount Slim upon whose death was succeeded by his son, Colonel the Viscount Slim.

“I have never met a despondent Sikh in the front line. In a hospital in the rear he will moan dreadfully over a small wound, but in a fight he will go on to his last breath, and die laughing at the thought of Paradise, with the battle-cry of Khalsa ji ki jai as he falls.

“This very cry, a friend told me, came over a field telephone in the Arakan when a Sikh signal-havildar had been cut off beyond hope of rescue. The line remained alive. The havildar described to my friend how the Japanese were creeping up. A pause, then he came back to say that he had killed a skirmisher, but that now his ammunition was exhausted. “There’s not much time, Sahib. I’ll break the telephone before they get me. Victory to the Holy Brotherhood!” They found him dead beside an enemy he had brained with the butt of his Sten.

“A remarkable people, the Sikhs, with their Ten Prophets, five distinguishing marks, and their baptismal rite of water stirred with steel; a people who have made history, and will make it again.”

“Every man in this magnificent battalion of the Indian State Forces [1st Patiala Regiment] stands 5 foot 11 inches, or over: they are the finest lot of Sikhs I have ever seen, and that is saying much. Every officer in the Lieutenant-Colonel Balwant Singh’s battalion is a Sikh. In discipline, turn-out, and fighting efficiency the 1st Patialas have earned the unstinting admiration of all their comrades in the division.”[30][31]

“Finally, we that live on can never forget those comrades who in giving their lives gave so much that is good to the story of the Sikh Regiment. No living glory can transcend that of their supreme sacrifice, may they rest in peace. In the last two world wars 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. They all died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the world and during shell fire, with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith.”

[edit] Pathans

Pathans or Pashtuns[32] (also Pathans[33] or ethnic Afghans[34][35]) are an ethno-linguistic group with populations primarily in eastern and southern Afghanistan and in the North-West Frontier Province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan. The Pashtuns are typically characterized by their Pashto language, adherence to Pashtunwali (a pre-Islamic indigenous religious code of honor and culture)[36] and Islam. Pashtun martial prowess has been renowned since Alexander the Great‘s invasion in the third century BCE.[37] Their modern past began with the rise of the Durrani Empire in 1747. The Pashtuns were also one of the few groups that managed to impede British imperialism during the 19th century.[38] The Pashtuns are the world’s largest (patriarchal) segmentary lineage tribal group.[39] The total population of the group is estimated to be at least 40 million. Pashtun regions have seen invasions and migrations including Aryan tribes (Iranian peoples, Indo-Aryans, Medes, and Persians), Scythians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, and Mongols.

The patrilineal definition is based on an important orthodox law of Pashtunwali. Its main requirement is that anyone claiming to be a Pashtun must have a Pashtun father. Under this definition, in order to be an ethnic Pashtun, there is less regard as to what language one speaks (Pashto, Persian, Urdu, English, etc.), while more emphasis is placed upon one’s father. Thus, the Pathans in Myanmar, for example, who have lost both the language and presumably many of the ways of their putative ancestors, can, by being able to trace their fathers’ ethnic heritage back to the Pashtun tribes. Recently some research persons found out that about three thousand Afghanis were settled around Mandalay, during the Burmese kings. They served in various places in Burmese kings’ army and were brought back to the capital from Arakan. And some of the Afghanis helped the Kamans in Arakan State of Burma to rebel against Arakan Myauk U and cause the end of that era.[40]

[edit] Indians in Burmese History

The highway between India and China [41][42]

India and China are the world’s biggest and ancient cradle of civilizations. High, snow peaked, rough and steep Himalaya mountain ranges block the direct interaction or travelling between the two of them except for the virtual highway through Myanmar/Burma. So there were a lot of travelers, migrants, victims of disasters and famine, war refugees and etc moving along this Burma Highway and some of them settled in Burma.

In the official Thailand History books, they even claim that all of the Tibeto-Burman groups including Tibet came down from Yunnan stressing that Tibet had made an almost U turn and climbed beck onto the Tibet Highlands.[43]

There was the Burma Road which linked Burma and China. Its terminals are Kunming in China and Lashio in Burma. The road is about 1,130 kilometres long and runs through rough mountain country. General Merrill and General Stillwell built during the colonial times under British. When the Japanese overran sections of the Burma Road the Allies built the Ledo Road, also later known as the Stillwell Road. Ledo Road was built from Ledo in Assam into the Hukawng Valley as an alternative to the Burma Road. It was completed in January 1945 and was renamed Stilwell Road by Chiang Kai-shek. Now China and India are negotiating with Myanmar to build a modern high way liking their countries through Burma including to lay natural gas pipe line from Rakhine to India, Yunnan, China.

Since it was the colonialists who invented the idea of the Mongolian origins of the Burmese peoples in the first place, contradicting the Burmese belief of having originated from Northern India and Nepal, this merely confirms the strength of colonialist discourse in penetrating Burmese self-perception fifty years later. In spite of asserting commonality Minye Kaungbon[44]cannot resist the temptation to provide the Bamars with a special historical mention that lifts them high above the Mongoloid race and raises their pride as a superior race, namely that ‘Bamars are descendants of Sakyans who are of the Aryan Race or of some other descendants of Aryans’. Though there is ‘scarcely any race that can claim descent from exclusively one original race’, nevertheless, Burma’s proximity to India permits the claim that the Burmans have ‘an ornamental Aryan superstructure on the existing Mongoloid foundation’, resulting in some historians proclaiming that ‘Myanmars were descendants of Aryans’.[45]

[edit] Pyu and India

[46] Pyu, one of the three founding father of Bamar or Myanmar race was believed to be the mixture of three groups; (i) Few insignificant local inhabitants since Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age, (ii) many migrants came from India bringing in Hinduism and Buddhism along with their cultures and literatures successively (iii) and the last group believed to came down from north, Tibeto-Burman group.[47]

Pyu settlement

Pyu arrived in future Burma area in the 1st century BC or earlier and established village kingdoms at: Hanlin, Kutkhaing in the north, Thanlwin coastal line in the east, Gulf of Mataban and its coast in the south, Thandwe in the southern west and Yoma in the west.[48]

Pyu had built towns in: Sri Ksetra (Pyeh) 4-8AD, Maingmaw, Beikthano. (Actually VISHNU from Hindi god) (Khmer troops occupied 210-225 AD), Taung Dwin Gyi 1-4 AD,, Hanlin (Wet Let) 2-9AD, (Halingyi), Tagaung (Thabeikkyin), Waddi (Nga Htwoe Gyi), Maingmaw (Pinlay)(Myittha), Beinnaka (Pyaw Bwe), and Bilin township (Mon state)[49]

Pyu variant of the Gupta script

Pyu established ancient kingdom (and its language) found in the central and northern regions of what is now Burma. The history of the Pyu is known to us from two main historical sources: the remnants of their civilization found in stone inscriptions (some in Pali, but rendered in the Pyu script, or a Pyu variant of the Gupta script) and the brief accounts of some travellers and traders from China, preserved in the Chinese imperial history.[50]

Pyu chronicles speak of a dynastic change in A.D. 94. Sri Ksetra village was apparently abandoned around A.D. 656 it was sacked by the Nan Cho Chinese Shan in the mid-9th century, ending the Pyu’s period of dominance.

Pyu language started in 5AD in Southern Rakhine. At famous Mya Zedi Pagoda stone inscriptions were written in Pyu, Mon, Bama, and Pali in 1113AD. Pyu had written records, dated from 1st century A.D. and Mon from 5th century A.D. and Bama had its own written records only in 11th century A.D.[51][52]

Beikthano (Vishnu)

Beikthano (Vishnu) at the end of 4th. AD (9Khmer troops occupied 210-225 AD.(Taung Dwin Gyi) after which the Mons moved in, giving the cities names Panthwa and Ramanna pura. Religious remains show both forms of Buddhism, Mahayanism and Hinayanism, together with Vishnu worship. There are large stone Buddhist sculptures in relief in the Gupta style, bronze statuettes of Avalokitesvara, one of the three chief Mahayanist Bodhisattvas, and so many stone sculptures of Vishnu that the city was sometimes referred to as ‘Vishnu City’.[53]

Pyu Kings are Maharajas

In Chinese Chronicles they recorded Pyu as ‘P’aio’. But Pyu Called themselves Tircul.[54]. There are records of Nan Cho and Tibet alliance in 755 AD to defeat Chinese. Nan Cho king Ko-lo-fen communicate with Pyu. Pyu Kings were called Maharajas and Chief ministers were called Mahasinas.

Nan Cho conscripted Pyu soldiers to attack of Hanoi in 863 AD. In 832 AD Nan Cho looted Han Lin village from Pyu.[55]

Pyu kings named Vishnu as in Gupta, India

Inscriptions in Pyu language using a South Indian script, showed a Vikrama dynasty ruling there at least from AD 673 to 718.[56]On Pyu’s stone inscriptions, kings names with Vikrama were suffix with Vishnu. The same tradition was noticed in Gupta era India 100 BC.and in Sri Kestia, Mon in south, Thai and Cambodia. Statue of Vishnu standing on Garuda with Lakshmi standing on the lotus on left. And Brahma, Siva and Vishnu thrones were also found. Name, Varman indicated that there was influence of Pallava of India.[57] The mentioning of Varman dynasty, an Indian name, indicated there was a neighbouring and rival city, but Old Prome is the only Pyu site so‘ far to be excavated in that area.[58]

Indian Dravidian tribe in Panthwa

In Chinese Chronicles Chen Yi-Sein instead gives an Indian derivation for Panthwa village, as the name of a Dravidian tribe settled in Mon’s areas around the Gulf of Martaban. This group was later one of the pioneers in a ‘Monized’ occupation of Beikthano village, which also led to the village/city being called Ramanna-pura, linked to Mon areas of southern Myanmar (1999:77).[59]

The Tagaung dynasty is explicitly incorporated into the story of Duttabaung’s mother and father; the lineage of the Queen of Beikthano is less consistent, but always intertwined with that of the Sri Kestra village rulers. In all of these, links are made between territorial control, royal patronage of Hindu or Buddhist sects and supernatural events. [60]

[edit] Orissa

Orissa, Indian Buddhist colonists, arrived lower Burma, settled and built pagodas since 500 BC.[61]

Thamala and Wimala

Two princes named Thamala and Wimala (Myanmar version of Indian names-Thalma and Vimala.) established the town Bago in 573AD. Tabinshwehti (Taungoo Dynasty) conquered it in 1539 AD.[62]

[edit] Andhra Dynasty

Hindu colonists, of Andhra Dynasty, from middle India (180 BC) established Hanthawaddy (Mon town) and Syriam (Ta Nyin or Than Lyin) in Burma.[63]

[edit] Indian Royal family

Abi Raja

Some believed that Burma started from Tagaung, built by Abi Raja, a Sakian (Tha Ki Win min), Indian Royal family member, migrated from Kapilavatthu (India) after defeated by the king of Panchala (India), Vitatupa. He left the Middle Country (India) and established the Tagaung country, known at that time as Sangassarattha or Sangassanagara. On the death of Abi Raja, younger son Kan Raja Nge (younger King Kan) got the throne. Thirty-three kings reigned there.[64]

Kan Raja Gyi ruled Arakan

Elder brother Kan Raja Gyi (elder King Kan) went down the Ayeyarwaddy River, ascended the Thallawadi River, arrived Kelataungnyo and ruled there as Rajagaha. He ruled the ancient Arakan.[65]

Kan Raja Gyi’s son Muducitta

His son Muducitta became king of the Pyus (ancestors of modern Myanmar). He founded the city of Kyauppadaung. He conquered the Dhannavati (built by king Marayu).[66]

Bhinnaka Raja

The invading Chinese from the north destroyed Tagaung. The last king of Tagaung, Bhinnaka Raja run away and died later. His followers split in to three divisions.[67]

One division founded the nineteen Shan States at the eastern part.

Muducitta, grand son of Abi Raja

Another division moved down Ayeyarwady River and combined with Muducitta (second generation migrant, grand son of Indian Abi Raja) and other Sakiyan (Indian) princes, among the Pyus, Kanyans and Theks.[68]

Naga Hsein, a Sakiyan Indian

The third group stayed in Mali with the chief queen Naga Hsein, a Sakiyan.(Indian) She was the queen of the Sakyiyan king Dhaja Raja migrated from India. On the way he founded Thintwe’. Then they founded the upper Bagan(Pagan).[69]

Dahnnavata captured Thambula, queen of Pyus. But Nanhkan (China) queen of Pyus had driven out the Kanyans, who lived in seven hill-tracks beginning Thantwe’.[70]

King Dwattabaung from Indian Royal Family

King Dwattabaung, direct descendent of Abi Raja (Indian Migrant) founded Thare Khit Taya in 443 BC. It was said to be self-destroyed in 94 AD. The history is half -mystical at that time.[71]

[edit] Talaings

Mons or Talaings, an Ethnic Minority Group of Myanmar, migrated from the Talingana State, Madras coast of Southern India. They mixed with the new migrants of Mongol from China and driven out the above Andhra and Orissa colonists.[72]

Those Mon (Talaings) brought with them the culture, arts, literature, religion and all the skills of civilisation of present Myanmar. They founded the Thaton and Bago (Pegu) Kingdoms. King Anawrahta of Bagan (Pagan) conquered that Mon Kingdom of King Manuha, named Suvannabumi (The Land of Golden Hues).[73]

The conquest of Thaton in 1057 was a decisive event in Burmese history. It brought the Burman into direct contact with the Indian civilizing influences in the south and opened the way for intercourse with Buddhist centres overseas, especially Ceylon.[74]

The evidence of the inscriptions, Luce[75] warns us, shows that the Buddhism of Pagan ‘was mixed up with Hindu Brahmanic cults, Vaisnavism in particular.[76]

[edit] Ah Yee Gyis

Ah Yee Gyis or Aries, notoriously powerful in Pagan or Bagan, before the Buddhist Religion arrived. Ah Yee Gyis or Aries were related to one Indian sect or religion. The Indian Aris or Ah Yees were also known for, swimming, martial arts, traditional medicine practice and the custom of sleeping with the brides on the first night of weddings. They are the last to eliminate just after formation of first Bama Empire.

[edit] Bengal prince Pateik Kara

Pateikkara was an Indian (Kala) prince from ancient Bengal who fall in love with Burma Bagan’s 3rd Great King Kyansittha’s daughter. King Kyansittha indirectly cause the death of his daughter, Shwe Ein Si’s lover, Prince of Pateik Kara. He used to bribe the royal guards with ten baskets of silver to see the princess. When the king heard of the secret lovers’ tryst, he forced his daughter to marry Sawyun, the son of late King Sawlu, although Sawyun was a handicapped person walking with a limp. Kyansittha preferred him rather than a Kala (Indian). [77]

[edit] India and Arakan

The Arakanese chronicles claim that the Kingdom was founded in the year 2666 BC.[78]

Wesali founded by Hindu Chandras

“The area known as North Arakan had been for many years before the 8th century the seat of Hindu dynasties. In 788 AD a new dynasty, known as the Chandras, founded the city of Wesali. This city became a noted trade port to which as many as a thousand ships came annually; the Chandra kings were upholders of Buddhism, … their territory extended as far north as Chittagong;—- Wesali was an easterly Hindu kingdom of Bengal — Both government and people were Indian.[79] So far as Arakan is concerned, the inscriptions show traces of two early dynasties holding sway in the north. The earlier one, a Candra dynasty, seems to have been founded in the middle of the fourth century A.D. Its capital was known by the Indian name of Vaisali and it maintained close connections THE PRE-PAGAN PERIOD 9 with India. Thirteen kings of this dynasty are said to have reigned for a total period of 230 years. The second dynasty was founded in the eighth century by a ruler referred to as Sri Dharmavijaya, who was of pure Ksatriya descent. His grandson married a daughter of the Pyu king of Sri Ksetra.[80]

Hindu statues and inscriptions in Wesali

The ruins of old capital of Arakan – Wesali show Hindu statues and inscriptions of the 8th century AD. Although the Chandras usually held Buddhistic doctrines, there is reason to believe that Brahmanism and Buddhism flourished side by side in the capital.

Chittagong is from Tsit-ta-gung

The Arab chief was the Thuratan, in the Arakanese utterance whom the king of Arakan Tsula-Taing Tsandra (951-957 AD.), claimed to have defeated in his invasion of Chittagong in 953 AD. In memory of his victory the Arakanese king set up a stone trophy, in the conquered land. And inscribed on it the Burmese word, “Tsit-ta-gung” meaning “there shall be no war”. And from this remark of the monument, according to Burmese tradition, the district took its name, Chittagong.[81]

Chittagong under Arakanese rule

Nearly a century, from about 1580 till 1666 AD Chittagong was under almost uninterrupted Arakanese rule. Arakanese captured and sent numbers of the inhabitants of Bengal into Arakan as agricultural and slave labours.

Arakanese known in Bengal as Maghs

The Buddhists Arakanese, known as Magh or Rakhine are descended from Aryans of Maghada, India Mongolians mixed with the Tibeto-Burmans.[82]

During the 16th and 17th centuries the Arakanese (known in Bengal as Maghs) in alliance with the Portuguese constituted a plundering party. By dominating the riverine tracts they plundered and devastated large parts of southern and eastern Bengal.[83]

They carried a large number of men, women and children from the coastal districts of Bengal,[84] as captives and the Maghs (Arakanese) employed them as agricultural labour. It is well known that the Kingdom of Arakan was a sparsely populated area, which required huge amount of human labour for agriculture. With this intention the Arakanese employed a large number of captives in the villages of land on the bank of the Kuladan river to the Naf. This Kula population of the country form about 15 percent of the whole population. A.P.Phayre mentions, “the Kolas or Mossalmans, are of an entirely different race. They being of Bengalee descent.[85]

Burmese settlement in Arakan

“The Burmese do not seem to have settled in Arakan until possibly as late as the tenth century AD. Hence earlier dynasties are thought to have been Indian, ruling over a population similar to that of Bengal. All the capitals known to history have been in the north near modern Akyab”.[86]

Arrival of Arab Muslims

The Arab Muslims first came into contact with Arakan through trade and commerce during the 8th century AD and since then Islam started spreading in the region. In those days the Arabs were very much active in sea-trade, they even monopolized trade and commerce in the East.[87]

Dr. Mohammad Enamul Haque introduces another Arakanese chronicle, which informs us of an Arab settlement, in the tenth century AD. extending from the mouth of the Meghna to the North of the Naf riverin the East.[88]

With the passing of time, the number of Muslims in Arakan began to increase. Gradually these Muslims have established very good and cordial relations with the local people and intermixed by marrying local women.

“They differ but little from the Arakanese except in their religion and in the social customs which their religion directs; in writing they use Burmese, but amongst themselves employ colloquially the language of their ancestors”.[89]

Even, a Russian merchant, Athanasius Nitikin, who travelled in the East (1470) mentions regarding activities of some Muslim sufis of Pegu (Bago). The Merchant pictured Pegu as “no inconsiderable port, inhabited by Indian dervishes.[90]

Ships wrecked at Ramree Island

In the history of the Arakanese kings, it is recorded that during the reign, of Arakanese king Mahat-y-ing Chandayat (780-810 AD.) several Kula or foreign ships were wrecked upon the island of Ramree, and the people who boarded on them were said to be Muslims. The Arakanese king ordered them to be settled in the villages of Arakan.[91]

Narameikhla alias Solaiman Shah

However, Islam made its first major political and cultural impact during the early 15th century through Narameikhla, king of Arakan. He lost the war,run to India Mogul Empire for help. With the help of Muslim soldiers he was restored as a king and Narameikhla, took the title Solaiman Shah.[92] and established a new dynasty, known as Maruk-u-dynasty, with its capital at Mrohaung.[93]

Arakan coins with Islamic features

With effect from the year 1430 the kingdom of Arakan became tributary to Bengal and the kings assume a Muslim name and struck coins with Kalima (The declarition of Islamic faith of the single God, Allah and believef of His messenger Mohammad- Peace be upon him.)[94]

“It is common for the kings, though Buddhist, to use Mohamedan designations in addition to their own names, and even to issue medallions bearing the Kalima, the Mohammedan confession of faith, in Persian script”.[95]

This practice was prevalent among the Arakanese kings till the first half of the seventeenth century. This was because they not only wished to be thought of as sultans in their own rights, but also because there were Muslims in ever larger numbers among their subjects. A.P.Phayre observes that the practice of assuming Muslim name and inscribing Kalima in their coins was probably first introduced in fulfilment of the promise made by Mung-Somwun but was continued in later time as a token of sovereignty in Chittagong.[96]

He also mentions that “these they assumed as being successors of Mussalman kings, or as being anxious to imitate the prevailing fashion of lndia.[97]

Muslim influence in Arakan since 1430

So the Muslim influence in Arakan may be said to date from 1430, the year of Narameikhla’s restoration.During his reign an unexpected development took place, which paved the way for a period of Muslim domination in the land of Arakan. From this time onwards the relation of Muslims with the Arakanese became more intimate and for about two centuries Arakan was united in a bond of friendship with Islamic lands. As a result of the impact of the civilization of the Muslims, Arakanese culture also progressed and thus began the ‘Golden Age’ in the history of Arakan.[98]

Muslims Massacred in Arakan

The next and last event was the flight of Shah Shuja, the brother of Aurangzeb, to Arakan in 1660, which brought a new wave of Muslim immigrants to the kingdom of Arakan and also caused political changes. Later on the prince and some of his soldiers were murdered on Feb., 1661.[99]

Kaman or Kamanci

But “who escaped the massacre were later admitted into the king’s bodyguard as a special archers unit called Kamans or Kamanci”.[100]

From 1666 to 1710 the political rule of Arakan was completely in their hands, during which the Muslim Kaman units played a decisive role of king makers and king breakers. Their numbers were increased from time to time by fresh arrivals from upper India.[101]

Buddhist Arakan Kings with Islamic names

All the kings of Arakan were said to be Buddhist. However to rule the 12 towns in the Bangal smoothly seven kings decided to have Arakanese and Mogul Islamic names. The interference of Ava and Pegu in the affairs of Arakan had important consequences for that country. The Ava king placed his son-in-law on the throne of Arakan. The Mons in return invaded the country, killed the Burmese nominee and replaced him with a ruler chosen by Razadarit. In 1430, however, with the assistance of Bengal, the exiled king, Narameikhla,returned and was reinstated as the vassal of the Mohammedan king of Gaur. He founded Mrohaung as his capital, and his, Mohammedan followers built a mosque there. From this time onwards the Arakanese kings, although Buddhists, used Mohammedan titles in addition to their own names, They even issued medallions bearing the Kalima, the Mohammedan confession of faith. The connection between Arakan and India became even more pronounced when in 1459 an Arakanese king occupied Chittagong.[102]

The Islamic-names of Arakan Kings

No- – -Name- – – – – – – – – – – year

1 Min-kha-ri (Ali Khan)- – – 1433
2 Ba-saw-phru (Kalama Shah)- -1459
3 Dolay (Mokhu Shah)- – 1482
4 Ba-saw-min-nyo (Maha Moshah)- -1492
5 Min-raza-kri (Ili Shah)- – – 1501
6 Saw-min-o (Jal Shah)- – – 1515
7 Thazata (Itsli Shah)- –1515

Summarized History of ArakanIndependent Kingdom — 266 BC- 1782 AD.
Burmese ruled ———-1783 – 1815 AD.
British ruled ———-1815 – 1942 AD.
Japanese ruled ———-1942 – 1945 AD.
British ruled ———-1945 – 1947 AD.
Burmese rule ———–1948 till present.

Continue reading

Burmese Indians; Culture

Burmese Indians; Culture

Culture

India has been particularly influential in Burmese culture as the cradle of Buddhism, and ancient Hindu traditions can still be seen in brahmins presiding over important ceremonies such as weddings and ear-piercings but most notably in Thingyan, the Burmese New Year festival.[5] Traditions of kingship including coronation ceremonies and formal royal titles as well as those of lawmaking were also Hindu in origin.[5] Many Burmese dishes and breads came as a result of Indian influence, prominently reflected in the Burmese version of Indian biryani (ဒန္ပောက္).

The Japanese invasion led to an exodus of half a million Indians mostly by overland route enduring great suffering and loss of life so there was a dramatic drop after Burma gained independence from Great Britain in 1948.[7]

[edit] Economic roles

Burmese Indians had made their livelihoods as merchants, traders and shopkeepers as well as manual labourers such as coolies, dockers, municipal workers, rickshaw men, pony cart drivers, malis and durwans. They were also heavily represented in certain professions such as civil servants, university lecturers, pharmacists, opticians, lawyers and doctors. They had virtual monopolies in several types of businesses such as auto parts and electrical goods, ironmongery and hardware, printing and bookbinding, books and stationery, paper and printing ink, tailoring and dry-cleaning, English tuition, and money lending. They traded in textiles, gold and jewellery where the market was traditionally dominated by Burmese women. However, Ne Win’s rise to power in 1962 and his relentless persecution of “resident aliens” (immigrant groups not recognised as citizens of the Union of Burma) led to an exodus of some 300,000 from racial discrimination and particularly after wholesale nationalisation of private enterprise a few years later in 1964.[7]

[edit] Religion

The Bengali Sunni Jameh Mosque, built in the colonial era, is one of many mosques in Yangon.

The Bengali Sunni Jameh Mosque, built in the colonial era, is one of many mosques in Yangon.

More Burmese Indians practise Islam (Mahamaydin – Muhammadan pronounced in Myanmar language) than any other religion, perhaps indicating a preponderance of people who had come from East Bengal, although there are large numbers of Hindus. Burmese Muslims, some of them of mixed blood born of Burmese mothers, call themselves Bama Musalin (ဗမာမူစလင္) and the majority belongs to the Sunni sect with small numbers of Shi’as. The Burmese call them Zaydabayi or Pathi kala (ပသီကုလား). Other religions practised by Burmese Indians include Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Bahá’í.

[edit] Muslims

Myanmar Indian Muslims formed one of the definite group among Myanmar Muslims or Burmese Muslims.

Myanmar’s Muslims are descendents of the following countries – a more appropriate and accurate term should be South Asian” Burmese as they consist of groups originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Also, an even smaller minority claim descent from Arabs, Persians, Turks, Moors, various groups of Indian-Muslims, Pakistanis, Pathans, and Bengalis intermarried with local Burmese and many ethnic Myanmar groups such as, Rakhine, Shan, Karen, Mon etc.

The various sub groups of Burmese Indian Muslims are; Soorti, Meimans, Chulia. Tamil, Bengali, Pakistan, Shia (originated from Iran), Dawoodi-Bhora community, Isaili Community, Malabar group,Hydrabud Muslims, Madarasi depending from their origin in India subcontinent.

Many of the Pakistani affiliated groups including the Rakhine have been resettled to Pakistan.

Nationalization

Most of the South Asians who arrived during the time of British India went back to their respective countries in the subcontinent after General Ne Win took over and nationalized all the business. So who decided to continue to stay in Burma cut off the umbilical cord and have shown love to the new home, Burma. Now most of them are second and third generation or some of them were married to locals and almost totally assimilated into mainstream Myanmar Muslims. [103] Now they lost contact with their roots and most of them are even not interested at all to trace their origin.[104] [105]

Myedu Muslims

Some of the earliest Myanmar Muslims or Zerbardi or Kala Pyo or Myedu Muslims or Myedu Kalas or Thone Thaung Khunhit Yar (=3700) were also actually from the Indian subcontinent of Asam and Manipura, brought in by the Burmese Kings as prisoners of wars.[106] Some of the most assimilated or Burmanized Muslims in Burma took the name Pathi as the race and even try to put infront of their name as a prefix e.g. Pathi Ko Lay.

In the 1930 Census, British enlisted Muslims as Zerbardi Race. But most of the Muslims did not know the origin of the word and refused to accept that name. Moshe Yegar solved the problem by the following finding. He searched for the source and found out in the library in Singapore that the Arab sailors called themselves, people above the wind. (Orang atas angin, in Malay) and called the Muslims from Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Indonesia as, people under the wind (Orang bawah angin, in Malay). That is Zerbard in Persian. So Zerbardi referred to Muslims from Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Indonesia.[107]

[edit] Racial Discriminations

[edit] Anti-Indian Riots

British Official White Paper

This paragraph’s basic facts are taken from Maurice Collis’ “Trials in Burma”. He was the judge in Rangoon, eye witnessed the riots and wrote his book based on the British Official White Paper given by, The Simon Commission. (The Royal Statutory Commission, appointed according to the Law of the Government of India1919, The Montague-Chelmsford Law.) [108]

Anti Indian sentiments

Anti Indian sentiments started after the First World War during the British rule. [109] In Burma there were half million Muslims in 1921. More then half of Indians were Indian Muslims. [110] Although Myanmar Muslims are different from the Indian Muslims and Indian Myanmar Muslims, Burmese Buddhists put them together even mixed with Hindu Indians, and called them Kala.[111]

The root of this hatred was_ [112] [113]

  1. Different in religion.

  2. Basic anti foreigner feelings.

  3. Low standard of living of the recent migrants.

  4. Recent migrants willingness to do, Dirty, Difficult and Dangerous jobs.

  5. Indians took over the Burmese lands especially Chittiers.

  6. Indians had already filled up and monopolized the government services when the Burmese were later ready for those jobs.

  7. Professional competition.

  8. World economic recession of 1930 aggravated the competition for the reduced economic pie.

1930 anti-Indian riots

In 1930 there was an anti-Indian riots in Burma under British rule.

The problem started in Yangon port, because of the irresponsible action of the British firm of Stevedores. It had employed hundreds of Indian labourers. While those Indians were on strike, that firm had employed the Burmese workers just to break the strike. So the Indians had to give in and ended the strike. Next morning when the Burmese workers came and report for work they were told by the British firm that their service was no more needed. Some of the Indian workers who were angry because they had to end the strike at failure because of these Burmese workers laughed at them. Some Burmese workers were angry and started the fight and Indians retaliate. It grew rapidly into anti Indian (including anti Muslims) riots. Even within the first half-hour at least two hundred Indians were massacred and flung into the river. Authorities ordered the police to fire upon any assembly of five or more who refuse to lay down the arms, under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. That was a black day of 26 May. Within two days it spread to the whole country and no one knew the exact causality. [114]

Anti Muslim riots in 1938

There was another anti Muslim riots in 1938, while still under British rule. The real basic hidden agenda was aimed at British Government but the Burmese dare not show this openly. The growing Nationalistic sentiments fanned by the local media disguised as anti Muslim to avoid the early detection and notice followed by the full blown force of mighty British Government machinery.Throughout the Burmese struggles against British rule, all the political issues, movements, meetings, demonstrations, riots, rebellions and even the revolutions were instigated, inspired, influenced and led by newspapers. [115] [116]

Burma for Burmese Campaign

Burmese started the Burma for Burmese only Campaign. Then marched to the Muslim (Surti) Bazar. [117] While the Indian Police broke the violent demonstration, three monks were hurt. Burmese Newspapers use the pictures of Indian police attacking the Buddhist monks to further incite the spread of riots.[118] Muslim properties: shops, houses and mosques were looted, destroyed and burnt to ashes. They assaulted and even massacred the Muslims. It spreads to all over Burma and recorded that 113 mosques were damaged. [119]

The Inquiry Committee by British

On 22.9.38. British Governor set up the Inquiry Committee. [120] They found out that the real cause was the discontent in the government regarding the deterioration in sociopolitical and economic conditions of Burmans. [121] The book was used as an inciting factor by the irresponsible Burmese newspapers. [122] They use the anti Muslim propaganda as a disguise to cover up for the political struggle to gain independence.So the Buddhist used the Muslims as a scapegoat, for the first time, to fight against the British.

The Simon Commission (The Royal Statutory Commission, appointed according to the Law of the Government of India1919, The Montague-Chelmsford Law) to inquire the effects of Dyarchy system of ruling Burma, had recommended that special places be assigned to the Myanmar Muslims in the Legislative Council.

It recommended that full rights of citizenship should be guaranteed to all the minorities: the right of free worship, the right to follow their own customs, the right to own property and to receive a share of the public revenues for the maintenance of their own educational and charitable institutions. It recommended Home Rule or independent government separate from India or the status of dominion.

But the British Government refused to accept all those recommended except the separation, at the round table committee on India held in London in 1930.

[edit] After Independence

King Dragon expelling Rohingyas

While preparing for that Citizenship Act, General Ne Win expelled some of the Arakan Rohingya Muslims in an operation, code named-‘King Dragon’. There are still some refugees in Bangladesh and some of them have set up anti-Rangoon groups to fight for self-determination. About 60,000 of Muslims have since migrated to Saudi Arabia where they were greeted with open arms as brothers-in-Islam.[123]

[edit] Massacre of Indian Shans

— the sort of fighting and bloody killings that took place between 1812-19 when the Burmese kings of Mandalay tried to conquer and subdue the Shan Ahom kingdom in Assam, India, where the Burmese General Maha Bandula’s troops committed indescribable cruelties and barbarities as to decimate something like 2/3 of the population and certainly 1/3 of the men and boys – disemboweling them, eating their flesh and burning them alive in cages to intimidate and suppress the Shan Ahom of Assam,India.[124]

This event so weakened and disorganized the Shan Ahom that by 1839 the kingdom was completely annexed by the British. Before that from about 1220 – 1812 AD they maintained themselves under one Dynasty, (that of Mong Mao 568-1604 AD when its descendants ruled Hsenwi or Theinni in Burmese). Indeed the Shan Ahom resisted conquest by the Mughals who had conquered much of India before the British incursion.[125] [2] Burmese translation of above interview_ [3]

Continue reading

Burmese Indians; Language Part 3

Burmese Indians; Language

Language

Burmese Indians also speak an array of different languages. There are Tamils, Punjabis, Parsis, Gujaratis and Marawaris as well as Bengalis and Pathans. Most can only communicate in Burmese, due to years of assimilation and lack of education in languages other than English. However, small segments of the population can speak other languages, such as Urdu, Hindi, Tamil, and Arabic.

Notable Burmese Indians

  • Exiled Moghul Emperor

The Mughal (and Muslim) rule was formally abolished by the British. The last Muslim Moghul Emperor of India, Abu Za’far Saraj al-Din Bahadur Shah and his family members and some followers were exiled to Yangon, Myanmar (Burma).

The king-poet was arrested from Delhi after the failure of the first war of independence against the British in 1857. The sad and broken Bahadur Shah was brought here in chains after the brutal murder of his sons.

Bahadur Shah Zafar spent four long years in Yangon and died on November 7,1862. Confined to a garage attached to a bungalow of an English officer, Zafar lived the life of a ‘faqir’ and passed away in ignominious anonymity in the outskirts of the city.

Two other exiled members of his family, wife Begum Zeenat Mahal and granddaughter Raunaq Zamani Begum who died in 1930 were buried alongside Bahadur Shah’s grave.

Now his burial site became a minor diplomatic clash between India and Pakistan. Both of them want to control the site now famous as a shrine.[126]

The Mazar (mausoleum) , located at No. 6, Theatre Road, is the most famous address for any Indian visiting the Myanmar capital, Yangon. Beginning with Subhash Chandra Bose, there has been a tradition of Indian leaders visiting the monument as part of their official itinerary.

  • S. N. Goenka – eminent Vipassana Buddhist meditation teacher (b. 1924)

  • Goshal aka Thakin Ba Tin[7] – Communist leader and founding member from the 1940s to the 1960s

  • S. Mukerjee aka Pyu Win[7]– Communist trade union leader killed in the 1950s

  • Dr. Nath[7]– Communist leader and founding member killed in the 1960s

  • Saya Rajan aka Aung Naing[7] – Communist trade union leader captured in the 1950s

  • Thakin Tha Khin (Shan Indian) – Government Minister in the 1950s[7]

  • Maung Di – Department chair and dean of Rangoon Arts and Science University (now Yangon University), Deputy Education Minister. Son of the Dean of Islamic Religious College in Kanbalu.[127]

  • Ba Than Haq – Professor of Geology and Minister of Mines. (A Muslim who converted to Buddhism)[128]

  • Sein Win (Shia Muslim who converted to Buddhism) – Prime Minister of General Ne Win’s Government.[129]

  • Captain Ohn Kyaw Myint. Martyred after failed attempt of coup d’état[130]

  • Bahadur, the Pelé of Burmese football

For much of the 1960s, the team was led by the Ghurka-born striker from Shan State, Suk Bahadur—the Pelé of Burmese football, who was also a dominating tennis and field hockey player as well as the national 100-meter sprint champion.

Historian John F. Cady writes in his book The United States and Burma that following consecutive victories in international matches in 1970–71, “proficiency in soccer became a significant mark of Burmese identity and prestige.”[131]

Indeed, football provided a strong focus for the representation of Burma to the rest of Asia. The list of Burma’s football “heroes” meanwhile provides an epic narrative of sorts in which the “beautiful game” has made an important contribution to the construction of the nation. To restore that sense of pride to Burma’s national side, the state-owned press kicked off a small media campaign. A January 13, 2000, article in the English-language daily The New Light of Myanmar urged public support. “To reach the Golden Age in soccer again, all media organizations are to provide assistance for development of soccer.” A separate article in the same paper stated that football victories bring honor to the state and that the people’s “hearts are thrilled with pleasure when they see or learn the victory of their national team. That is the sign of expressing their patriotism.”[132]

  • Daw Tint Tint @ Usha Narayanan, wife of Former Indian President, Kocheril Raman Narayanan

In 1949, K. R. Narayanan joined the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) on Nehru’s request.[133] He worked as a diplomat in the embassies at Rangoon, Tokyo, London, Canberra, and Hanoi. He was the Indian ambassador to Thailand (1967-69), Turkey (1973-75), and the People’s Republic of China (1976-78).

While working in Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar), K. R. Narayanan met Ma Tint Tint, whom he later married in Delhi on 8 June 1951). Ma Tint Tint got the BA (Psychology) from Rangoon University and went to India to do Masters.[134] Their marriage needed a special dispensation from Nehru per Indian law, because Narayanan was in the IFS and she was a foreigner. Ma Tint Tint adopted the Indian name Usha and became an Indian citizen. Usha Narayanan worked on several social welfare programmes for women and children in India. She also translated and published several Burmese short stories; a collection of translated stories by Thein Pe Myint, titled Sweet and Sour, appeared in 1998. She is the only woman of foreign origin to have become the First Lady. They have two daughters, Chitra (who has served as Indian ambassador to Sweden and Turkey) and Amrita.

  • Helen of Bollywood

Born on July 14, 1938 or 1939. Helen was exotic as all vamps must be, but the Bombay film industry’s somewhat uncomplicated notion of exotica was such that Helen could be made to fit any set of circumstances. As an alien with no fixed place of origin (her mother was a half-Spanish, half-Burmese, and her father a Frenchman posted in Burma though she took on her step-father and became Helen Richardson and walked her way to Assam along with other refugees after the Second World War), she could be any kind of foreigner, any outsider.

It is a tribute to her talent and charisma that she literally side-stepped all competition during the period she strutted her stuff to perfection. How good a job did Helen make of seduction? A great one for the viewers – her fan base hasn’t diminished much in close to 50 years.”[135] [4]

See also

References

  • Priestly, Harry. “The Outsiders“, The Irrawaddy, 2006-01. Retrieved on 200607-07. 

  • Butkaew, Samart. “Burmese Indians: The Forgotten Lives“, Burma Issues, 2005-02. Retrieved on 200607-07. 

  • Gregory, James. Myanmar: A Neglected Area of Tamil Lexicography. University of Cologne.

  • Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma, Rangoon University Press, Rangoon, Burma, January 1960.

  • Dr Than Tun (History Professor, Mandalay University) M.A., B.L., D. Lit., Ph.D.“Ancient Pyu”

  • Dr Than Tun (History Professor, Mandalay University) M.A., B.L., D. Lit., Ph.D.“Bagan Culture”,

  • Shway Yoe (Sir James George Scott) 1882. The Burman – His Life and Notions. New York: The Norton Library 1963.

  • Martin Smith (1991). Burma – Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity. London,New Jersey: Zed Books

  • ‘The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar, 1972, Otto Harrassowitz. Wisbaden.

  • Tamil Studies Abroad, A Symposium edited by Xavier S.Thaninayagam, published by the International Association of Tamil Research, 1968:

  • The Chettiars in Burma by Sean Turnell Economics Department Macquarie University.

  • The Sikh Regiment In The Second World War, Colonel F.T.Birdwood OBE.

  • Myanmar Muslim History, Myanmar Muslim Students Association, Rangoon Arts and Science University. Limited Edition.

  • The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar, 1972, Otto Harrassowitz. Wisbaden.

  • Bertil Lintner, famous Sweden journalist expert on Burma, 17th. of April 1988 in the Bangkok Post.

  • ‘DIALOGUE WITH A SHAN LEADER, H.R.H HSO KHAN PHA” . Tiger Yawnghwe or His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha; he is the eldest son of Sao Shwe Thaik, the former Saopha[Prince] of Yawnghwe[Nyaung-Shwe] and the first President of Burma after Burma’s Independence from British colonial rule. Interview with Dr Tayza, Chief Editor of Burma Digest.

  • Dr Than Tun (History Professor, Mandalay University) ‘The Story of Myanmar told in pictures’.

  • Elizabeth Moore, Myanmar Historical Research Journal 2004.

  • D. G. E Hall, A History of the South East Asia, New York, 1968.

  • G.E Hervey, History of Burma, London 1925,

  • D. G. E Hall, Studies in Dutch Relations with Arakan, Journal of the Burma Research Society, VOL XXVI, 1936, P. 6. and Mr. R. B. Smart, Burma Gazetteer-Akyab District, voL A., Rangoon. 1957

  • A.P. Phayre, History of Burma 1853

  • A. P. Phayre, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1846.

  • Haresh Pandya: “K. R. Narayanan: Indian president from downtrodden caste”, The Guardian, 29 Nov. 2005.

  • SURESH KOHLI, Helen of Bollywood . Hindu, India’s National Newspaper Friday, Apr 14, 2006.

  • Martin Smith (1991). Burma – Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity. London,New Jersey: Zed Books.

  • M.S. Collis, Arakan’s place in the civilization of the Bay, Joumal of the Burma Research Society, 50th Anniversary publications No.2, Rangoon, 1960

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Burma – CIA World Factbook
  2. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 111, paragraph 4
  3. ^ “Ancient Pyu” page 4. Professor U Than Tun M.A.B.L.D. Lit. Ph.D.
  4. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 36, paragraph 4. Page 37, line 1,2
  5. ^ a b c d Shway Yoe (Sir James George Scott) 1882. The Burman – His Life and Notions. New York: The Norton Library 1963, 436,249-251,348,450. 
  6. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 29, line 6,7,8. paragraph 3,4. page 30.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Martin Smith (1991). Burma – Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity. London,New Jersey: Zed Books, 43-44,98,56-57,176. 
  8. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 29 p 29, paragraph3 first line
  9. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 32, paragraph 2, line 2,3,4
  10. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 32,paragraph 3
  11. ^ ‘The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar, page 30.
  12. ^ Thanjai Nalankilli, TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 2002 (ID.2002-07-02)
  13. ^ From Tamil Studies Abroad, A Symposium edited by Xavier S.Thaninayagam, published by the International Association of Tamil Research, 1968:
  14. ^ Tamil Nation
  15. ^ Ananthan @ siva.for.uidaho.edu on: Fri Aug 23 03:24:50
  16. ^ Moshe Yegar, Muslims of Burma, page 30, paragraph 4, line 8
  17. ^ Furnivall 1956:120
  18. ^ Cooper 1959:30
  19. ^ Cooper 1959:30
  20. ^ BPBE 1930a:203
  21. ^ Testimony of a Karen witness to the Burma Provincial Banking Enquiry, 1929.
  22. ^ Sir Harcourt Butler, Governor of Burma, 1927.
  23. ^ Adas (1974b:389)
  24. ^ Parching the Land?: The Chettiars in Burma by Sean Turnell Economics Department Macquarie University.sturnell@efs.mq.edu.au
  25. ^ BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S. Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma. Third edition 1960. Page 41
  26. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 30 paragraph 4, line 9, 10
  27. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 30, paragraph 4, line 8
  28. ^ Nepal – From The Anglo-Nepalese War To World War II
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ Martial India, F. Yeats-Brown, 1945.
  31. ^ The Sikh Regiment In The Second World War, Colonel F.T.Birdwood OBE
  32. ^ Pashto/Urdu/Persian: پشتون Paštūn or پختون Paxtūn. Also Pushtuns, Pakhtuns, Pukhtuns
  33. ^ Urdu: پٹھان, Hindi: पठान Paṭhān
  34. ^ Persian: افغان Afğān
  35. ^ Banuazizi, Ali and Myron Weiner (eds.). 1994. The Politics of Social Transformation in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan (Contemporary Issues in the Middle East), Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-2608-8 (retrieved 7 June 2006).
  36. ^ Kakar, Palwasha. Harvard University – School of Law – Tribal Law of Pashtunwali and Women’s Legislative Authority (retrieved 7 June 2006)
  37. ^ Caroe, Olaf. 1984. The Pathans: 500 B.C.-A.D. 1957, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195772210 (retrieved 7 June 2006)
  38. ^ Anglo-Afghan Wars, Iranica.com (retrieved 16 January 2006)
  39. ^ Ethnic, Cultural and Linguistic Denominations in Pakhtunkhwa, Khyberwatch.com (retrieved 7 June 2006)
  40. ^ ‘The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar, 1972, Otto Harrassowitz. Wisbaden
  41. ^ “Bagan Culture”page 42, Professor U Than Tun M.A., B.L., D. Lit., Ph.D.
  42. ^ “Ancient Pyu” page page 3&4 Professor U Than Tun M.A., B.L., D. Lit., Ph.D.
  43. ^ Thailand History books
  44. ^ Minye Kaungbon (1994:165). New Light of Myanmar
  45. ^ ILCAA 1999 – Gustaaf Houtman. Mental Culture in Burmese Crisis Politics. ILCAA Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia & Africa Monograph Series 33, Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, 1999, ISBN 4-87297-748-3, p 070/392
  46. ^ “Ancient Pyu” page page 3&4 Professor U Than Tun M.A., B.L., D. Lit., Ph.D.
  47. ^ Dr Than Tun (History Professor, Mandalay University) ‘The Story of Myanmar told in pictures’.
  48. ^ Dr Than Tun , “The Story of Myanmar told in pictures”
  49. ^ Dr Than Tun , “The Story of Myanmar told in pictures”
  50. ^ Chinese imperial history
  51. ^ Chinese imperial history
  52. ^ “Ancient Pyu” page page 3&4 Professor U Than Tun M.A., B.L., D. Lit., Ph.D.
  53. ^ BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S.Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma.Third edition 1960. Page 8
  54. ^ (Perso-Arab authours) of 9-10 AD
  55. ^ (Elizabeth Moore, Myanmar Historical Research Journal 2004)
  56. ^ BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S.Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma.Third edition 1960. Page 8
  57. ^ (Elizabeth Moore, Myanmar Historical Research Journal 2004)
  58. ^ BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S.Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma.Third edition 1960. Page 8
  59. ^ D. G . E. HALL, “BURMA”
  60. ^ D. G . E. HALL, “BURMA”
  61. ^ HGE Hall, “History of Southeast Asia.”
  62. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma
  63. ^ HGE Hall, “History of Southeast Asia.”
  64. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma, Rangoon University Press, Rangoon, Burma, January 1960.page 1. paragraph 2&3
  65. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma,page 2, paragraph 2
  66. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma,page 2, line 22
  67. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma,page 3, line 4 to 7
  68. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma,page 2,3,6,13
  69. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma,page 3,4&30
  70. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma,page6,12,13
  71. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma,page 7,9,13,21,23,83,86,94
  72. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar, 1972, Otto Harrassowitz. Wisbaden.
  73. ^ HGE Hall History of Southeast Asia.
  74. ^ BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S.Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma.Third edition 1960. Page 16
  75. ^ Luce , G. H., ‘Burma’s Debt to Pagan’, Journal of the Burma Research Society, Vol. XXII, p121.
  76. ^ BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S.Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma.Third edition 1960. Page 16
  77. ^ Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, [Glass Palace Chronicle] Page 105 paragraph 4 to page 106 paragraph 1
  78. ^ A.P. Phayre, History of Burma London, 1883, PP. 293-304.
  79. ^ M.S. Collis, Arakan’s place in the civilization of the Bay, Joumal of the Burma Research Society, 50th Anniversary publications No.2, Rangoon, 1960, P. 486.
  80. ^ BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S.Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma.Third edition 1960. Page 8 -9
  81. ^ A.P. Phayre,op.cit, P36.
  82. ^ HGE Hall History of Southeast Asia.
  83. ^ For details; J.N.Sarkar: The Feringhi Pirates of Chatgaon; Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengalvol.111,1907,pp.419-25,andFBemier:Travels in the Mughal Empire. Delhi l 968, P.175.
  84. ^ (District Gazetteer – 24 Pargana. P. 39.)
  85. ^ A. P. Phayre, Account of Arakan Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. X, 184 1, P. 68 1.
  86. ^ D. G. E Hall, A History of the South East Asia, New York, 1968, P. 389.
  87. ^ Muhammed Abdur Rahim, Social & Cultural History of Bengal, VoL 1, Karach, 1963, P. 37
  88. ^ Muhammed Enamul Haque, Purba Pakistane Islam, Dhaka, 1948, pp. 16-17 & Enamul Haque 0 Abdul Karim Shahitya Bisharad, Arakan Rajshabhay Bangla Shahitya, Calcutta, 1935, P. 3.
  89. ^ D. G. E Hall, Studies in Dutch Relations with Arakan, Journal of the Burma Research Society, VOL XXVI, 1936, P. 6. and Mr. R. B. Smart, Burma Gazetteer-Akyab District, voL A., Rangoon. 1957
  90. ^ G.E Hervey, History of Burma, London 1925, P. 121.
  91. ^ A.P. Phayre, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, voL XII, part, 1, 1844, p.36.
  92. ^ (A.S.Bahar, The Arakani Rahingyas in Burmese Society, M.A. Thesis, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, p.27.)
  93. ^ (Moshe Yegar, Op. cit.; P. 18.)
  94. ^ M. Robinson and L.A. Shaw, The Coins and Banknotes of Burma, England, 1980, P. 44.
  95. ^ (G.EHarvey, Op. cit, P. 140.)
  96. ^ A.P. Phayre, History of Burma 1853, P. 78.
  97. ^ A. P. Phayre, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1846.
  98. ^ M. Siddique Khan, op. cit., P. 249.
  99. ^ G.E.Hervey, The fate of Shah Shuja 1661. Journal of the Burma Research Society, part 1, 1922. pp. 107-115.
  100. ^ M. Siddique Khan, op, cit., p. 253.
  101. ^ G. E Hervey, History of Burma, London 1925, P. 148. Mohammad Khalilur Rahman, Tarik-i-Islam Arakan & Burma, Urdu version, Quoted by Abdul Haque Chowdhury.
  102. ^ BURMA, D. G . E. HALL, M.A., D.LIT., F.R.HIST.S.Professor Emeritus of the University of London and formerly Professor of History in the University of Rangoon, Burma.Third edition 1960. Page 31-32
  103. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 29 paragraph 1
  104. ^ Myanmar Muslim History, Myanmar Muslim Students Association, Rangoon Arts and Science University. Limited Edition
  105. ^ “The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 71,86 & Chap 4
  106. ^ ‘The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 11, paragraph 3. Page 12 paragraph 1
  107. ^ ‘The Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 28,33,49,57,64,74,107,118
  108. ^ Maurice Collis, Trials in Burma
  109. ^ Moshe Yegar, Muslims of Burma, page 32
  110. ^ Moshe Yegar, Muslims of Burma, page 29 paragraph 1 and foot note 1. Page 31 line 1, 2, 11
  111. ^ Maurice Collis, Trials in Burma
  112. ^ Maurice Collis, Trials in Burma
  113. ^ Moshe Yegar, Muslims of Burma, page 111, paragraph 4, line 8 to 15. Page 27, paragraph 4, line 5,6,7. Page 31 paragraph 2. Page 32 paragraph 4
  114. ^ Maurice Collis, Trials in Burma
  115. ^ Democratic Voice of Burma, Media conference (July 19-20, Oslo) Burmese Media: Past, present and future by U Thaung (Mirror/Kyae Mon news paper Retired Chief Editor)
  116. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 32 paragraph 4.Page 36, paragraph 1, line 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15
  117. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 36, paragraph 3.
  118. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 36, paragraph 4. Page 37, line 1,2
  119. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 37, paragraph 2.
  120. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 38, line 1
  121. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 38, paragraph 2
  122. ^ Muslims of Burma” A study of a minority Group, by Moshe Yegar,Page 38, paragraph 2, line 12,13,14
  123. ^ Newsletter WAMY World Assembly of Muslim Youth Movement, Riyad Saudi Arabia
  124. ^ History of Assam by Sir Edward Gaits.
  125. ^ “DIALOGUE WITH A SHAN LEADER, H.R.H HSO KHAN PHA” . Tiger Yawnghwe or His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha; he is the eldest son of Sao Shwe Thaik, the former Saopha[Prince] of Yawnghwe[Nyaung-Shwe] and the first President of Burma after Burma’s Independence from British colonial rule. Interview with Dr Tayza, Chief Editor of Burma Digest.
  126. ^ Independent-Bangladesh,Bahadur Shah Zafar’s Mazar,Myanmar turns down Pakistan’s claim,PTI, YANGON.Nov 16:2003
  127. ^ History of Myanmar Muslims, Rangoon University Islamic Association.
  128. ^ History of Myanmar Muslims, Rangoon University Islamic Association.
  129. ^ History of Myanmar Muslims, Rangoon University Islamic Association.
  130. ^ History of Myanmar Muslims, Rangoon University Islamic Association.
  131. ^ John F. Cady, The United States and Burma
  132. ^ January 13, 2000, article in the English-language daily The New Light of Myanmar
  133. ^ Haresh Pandya: “K. R. Narayanan: Indian president from downtrodden caste”, The Guardian, 29 Nov. 2005.
  134. ^ Mrs President’s interview with News Straight Times
  135. ^ SURESH KOHLI, Helen of Bollywood . Hindu, India’s National Newspaper Friday, Apr 14, 2006

[edit] External links

  • Myanmar Muslim news- [5]

  • Burmese Muslims Network- [6]

  • Islamic Unity Brotherhood [7]

  • Myanmar Muslim political Awareness Oranization- [8]

  • Panthay on line community- [9]

  • Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights[10]

  • US Department of State,International Religious Freedom Report 2005 on Burma[11]

  • US Department of State, Burma, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2005.Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor[12]

  • Amnesty International’s report on Burma[13]

  • UK Conservatives’ Human Rights[14]

  • Refusal of Identity Cards for Burmese Muslims[15] [16]

  • Refusal of Identity Cards for Burmese Muslims (in Burmese. We also love Burma.)[17]

  • Racial Discriminations on Burmese Muslims[18][19]

  • Human Rights issues in Burma [20]

  • PRAYERS FOR BURMA [21]

  • Priestly, Harry. “The Outsiders“, The Irrawaddy, 2006-01. Retrieved on 200607-07. 

  • Butkaew, Samart. “Burmese Indians: The Forgotten Lives“, Burma Issues, 2005-02. Retrieved on 200607-07. 

  • The Persecution of Muslims in Burma, by Karen Human Rights Group

Continue reading

Islam in Myanmar; Contents and History

Islam in Myanmar

Islam in Myanmar; Contents and History

October 13th, 2007

Bengali Sunni Jameh Mosque, Yangon.jpg

Contents

//

History

Main article History of arrival of Islam in Burma/Myanmar

Forefathers

The first Muslims had landed in Myanmar / Burma’s Ayeyarwady River delta, Tanintharyi coast and Rakhine as seamen in ninth century, prior to the establishment of the first Myanmar (Burmese) empire in 1055 AD by King Anawrahta of Bagan or Pagan. [1][2] [3][4][5]The dawn of the Muslim settlements and the propagation of Islam was widely documented by the Arab, Persian, European and Chinese travelers of Ninth century.[6] [7]The current population of Myanmar Muslims are the descendants of Arabs, Persians, Turks, Moors, Indian-Muslims, Pakistanis, Pathans, Bengalis, Chinese Muslims and Malays who settled and intermarried with local Burmese and many ethnic Myanmar groups such as, Rakhine, Shan, Karen, Mon etc.[8][9]

The population of the Muslims increased during the British rule of Burma because of new waves of Indian Muslim Immigration. [10]This sharply declined in the years following 1941 as a result of the Indo-Burman Immigration agreement,[11]and was officially stopped following Burma’s (Myanmar) independence on 4th January, 1948.

Muslims arrived in Burma as travelers, adventurers, pioneers, sailors, traders,[12]Military Personals (voluntary and mercenary)[13], and a number of them as prisoners of wars.[14] Some were reported to have taken refuge from wars, Monsoon storms and weather, shipwreck [15]and for a number of other circumstances. Some are victims of forced slavery [16]but many of them are professionals and skilled personals such as advisors to the kings and at various ranks of administration whilst others are port-authorities and mayors and traditional medicine men.[17]

Persian Muslims traveled over land, in search of China, and arrived northern Burma at Yunnan (China) border. Their colonies were recorded in Chronicles of China in 860 AD.[18][19] Myanmar Muslims were sometimes called Pathi, and Chinese Muslims are called Panthay. [20]It is widely believed that those names derived from Persi (Persian). Bago / Pegu, Dala, Thanlyin / Syriam, Taninthayi /Tenasserim, Mottama / Martaban, Myeik / Mergui and Pathein /Bassein were full of Burmese Muslim settlers and they outnumbered the local Burmese by many times. In one record, Pathein was said to be populated with Pathis.[21] In Kawzar 583 (13th Century), Bassein or Pathein was known as Pathi town under the three Indian Muslim Kings. [22] [23] [24] Arab merchants arrived Martaban, Margue. Arab settlement in the present Meik’s mid-western quarters. [25]

During Bagan King, Narathihapate, 1255-1286, in the first Sino Burman war, Kublaikhan’s Muslim Tatars attacked and occupied up to Nga Saung Chan. Mongols under Kublai Khan invaded the Pagan Kingdom. During this first Sino Burman war in 1283, Colonel Nasruddin’s Turks occupied up to Bamaw. (Kaungsin)[26] (Tarek) Turk were called, Mongol, Manchuria, Mahamaden or Panthays. [27]

[edit] Muslims in Bagan (Pagan) Period

Byat Wi and Byat Ta

The first evidence of Muslim landing in Burma’s chronicle was recorded in the era of the first Burmese Empire of Pagan (Bagan) 1044 AD. Two Arab Muslim sailors of BYAT family, Byat Wi and Byat Ta, arrived Burmese shores, near Thaton.[28][29](There are people in Iraq, Arabia and some Surthi Northern Indian Muslims with the same sir name even at present. See Byat and Bayt) After their ship wrecked, they managed to use a plank to swim to the shores. They took refuge and stayed at the monastery of the monk in Thaton. Thaton king became afraid of them and killed the elder brother. [30] The younger brother managed to escape to Bagan and took refuge to king Anawratha. [31] He married a girl from Popa and got two sons, Shwe Byin brothers.[32]

Shwe Byin brothers

Later they also served the king as worriers,[33] even as the special agents to infiltrate the enemy’s inner circle. They were famous after they successfully infiltrated the Chinese King Utibua’s bodyguards. That event forced the Chinese to sign a peace agreement with the Burmese.[34][35]

After the war, on the way back home, they refused to contribute in the building of a pagoda at Taung Byone[36], just north of Mandalay. The brothers’ enemies left vacant the spaces for the two bricks so that the king could notice. After a brief inquiry the king ordered to punish the brothers for disobedience but they were later given death sentence. [37]

The royal raft could not move after that. Brahmans, royal consultants interpreted that, the two brothers were loyal faithful servants but unjustly punished, became Nat (spirit) and they pulled the rudder of the royal boat to show their displeasure. Then only, Anawratha ordered the building of the spirit-palace at Taung Byone and ordered the people to worship the two brothers.[38]

For five days each year Taung Byone village becomes a fairground. Taung Byone, 14 km north of Mandalay, has about 7,000 nat shrines, nearly 2,000 of them elaborate ones dedicated to those two brothers. [39][40]

King Anawratha 1044-1077 AD also had Myanmar Muslim army units and body guards. When King Anawrahta attacked Martaban, capital of Mon (Talaing) King, Mingyi Swa Saw Kae’, two Muslim officers’ army unit fiercely defended against his attack.[41]

Nga Yaman Kan

The King Anawrahta appointed a Muslim Arab [42] as a Royal teacher for his son, Prince Sawlu. That teacher’s son later became the Governor of Bago (Pegu) known as Ussa City. [43] His name was Raman Khan.[44] (Known as Nga Yaman Kan in Burmese). King Sawlu himself had given the town to his childhood friend, also an adopted brother because they were fed from the same breast as Raman Khan’s mother was the wet nurse of Prince Sawlu.[45]

Once Raman Khan won the game of dice, jumped with joy and clapped the elbows. King Sawlu was angry and challenged Rahman Khan to rebel against him with the Bago province. Raman Khan accepted the challenge and successfully trapped King Sawlu and his army in swamps.[46]Kyanzittha tried to rescue but Sawlu refused to be rescued and was later killed by Raman Khan. Rahman Khan himself was ambushed by the sniper bow-shot of Nga Sin the hunter and died.

Kyanzittha became the third king of Bagan Dynasty. While expending the empire he brought back many Indian-Muslim captives. They were settled in central Burma.[47]

[edit] Muslim sailors and traders

In the chronicles of Malaysia, during the first Melacca Empire of Parameswara in the early fifteenth century, it was recorded the Burmese (Muslims) sailors and traders were regularly arriving there. [26] Those Bago (Pegu) seamen, likely to be Muslims, were also recorded by the Arab Historians of tenth century. During fifteen to seventeen centuries, there were a lot of records of Burmese Muslim traders, sailors and settlers on the whole coast of Burma. That was from Arakan coast (Rakhine), Ayeyarwady delta and Tanintharyi coast (Including all the islands along the whole coast).[48]

During Peik Thaung Min (early Bagan dynasty, 652-660 AD), Arab travelers from Madagascar to China through East Indian Islands, visited Thaton and Martaban ports. It was recorded in Arab chronicles in 800 AD. [49]

In seventeenth century, those Muslims controlled the business and became so powerful because of their wealth. They were even appointed as Governor of Mergui, the Viceroy of the Province of Tenasserim, Port Authorities, Port Governors and Shah-bandars (senior port officials). [50] [51][52]

Muslim sailors built many mosques, but those should be more appropriately called Temples as they were equally holy to Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Chinese. They were called Buddermokan, The so called Buddermokan on Sittway island is claimed by believers of different faiths. … ‘Buddermokan’ [53][54][55] in memory to Badral-Din Awliya, a saint. They are found in Akyab, Sandoway and on a small island off Mergyi. [56]

Sa Nay Min Gyi King (King Sane) had two flotillas of Steam-ships, named Alarhee and Selamat, both are Arabic Islamic names. In 1711, Myanmar Missionary was sent to Mogul King Shah Alam. They used the Alarhee Ship and the captain was an Arab. [57]

[edit] Muslim prisoners of war

When Tabinshwehti, TaungooKing 1530-50 AD attacked Hanthawaddy, Muslim soldiers were helping Mons with artillery. [58] [59] [60]

Ava king Anaukpetlun captured Thanlyin or Syriam in 1613 and crucified the rebel Nat Shin Naung, and Portuguese mercenary Philip de Brito. The Indian Muslim mercenaries and five battle ships were captured. Muslim prisoners of wars were settled at the north of Shwebo in Myedu, Sagaing, Yamethin and Kyaukse.[61]

King Thalun (1629-1648)., the successor of Anaukpetlun settled those Muslims at Shwebo, Sagaing and Kyaukse. [62] Muslim prisoners of war were settled in upper Myanmar by successive Burmese kings. Myae Du near Shwebo was one of the sites. Muslim prisoners from Bago during 1539-1599 AD were the first settlers.

Tabinshwehti brought back the Muslim prisoners, after attacking Arakan in 1546 and 1549 AD.

King Alaungpaya attacked Assam and Manipur of India and brought back more Muslims to settle in Burma. These Muslims later assimilated to form core of Burmese Muslims.[63]

King Sane (Sa Nay Min Gyi) brought back several thousand Muslim prisoners of war from Sandoway and settled in Myedu in 1707 AD. Next year few thousands more were settled in those places and Taungoo. 3000 Muslims from Arakan took refuge under King Sane in 1698-1714. They were divided and settled in Taungoo, Yamethin , Nyaung Yan, Yin Taw, Meiktila, Pin Tale, Tabet Swe, Bawdi, Syi Tha, Syi Puttra, Myae du and Depayin. This Royal decree was copied from the Amarapura Royal Library in 1801 by Kyauk Ta Lone Bo. [64]

During King Bagyidaw 1819-37 rule, Maha Bandula conquered Assam and brought back 40,000 prisoners of war. About half of them were likely to be Muslims. [65] Maha Bandula and Burmese Army’s war at Ramu and Pan War were famous. Burmese captured one big cannon, 200 firearms, mixed Sepoy Indian 200. Muslims amongst them were relocated at the south of Amarapura that is Myittha river’s south. [66]

[edit] Royal Muslim-soldiers

When the famous Raza Dirit attacked and conquered Dagon (Yangon), Muslim soldiers defended from the Burmese side and Raza Dirit also had to use the help of Muslim sailors.[67]

The army of King Anawratha (eleven century) already boasted Indian units and bodyguards, Muslims apparently among them. [68]

When Tabinshwehti attacked Martaban in 1541 AD, many Muslims resisted strongly. .[69]

When Bayinnaung successfully conquered Ayuthaya (Thailand) in 1568-1569 AD he use the help of Muslim artillerymen. King Alaungpaya 1752-1760 AD conquered Syrim. Muslim prisoners of war were forced to serve in his army.[70]

Pagan Min 1846-1853 AD appointed U Shwe Oh , a Burmese Muslim, as the Governor of the Capital city, Amarapura. His personal secretary U Paing (also a Burmese Muslim) donated a two- mile long bridge, made of teakwood across the Taung Tha Man Lake. In 1850, the Governor of Bagan was also said to be a Muslim.[71]

Burmese kings employed a lot of Muslims in his inner circle: Royal bodyguards, eunuchs, couriers, interpreters and advisers.[72] [73]

[edit] Muslims in Konbaung Dynasty

[edit] Muslims in Amarapura

Muslims in Amarapura were about 20,000 families, at the time of Innwa (Ava) kingdom (1855 AD). Most of them were Sunni Muslims. [74]

During the Konbaung dynasty Alaungpaya’s attack of Mons near Pyay, Mon warrior Talapan was assisted by Muslim soldiers. Because of their artillery fire, a lot of Burmese soldiers were wounded and died. [75]

In 1755 Alaungpaya conquered Dagon and renamed it Yangon (meaning ‘The End of Strife’). Mon soldiers surrendered and four Muslim rich men also surrendered with the expensive presents, ammunitions and four warships. [76] Although conquered Yangon there are more battles to fight with Mons. So Alaungpaya rearranged the army. Pyre Mamet was one of the “Thwe Thauk Gyi” assigned to serve as the Royal Bodyguard. [77]Alaungpaya attacked Thanlyin or Syriam, and many Muslim artillery men were captured. [78]Alaungpaya captured four warships and Muslim soldiers. They were later allowed to serve him. [79] On the page 203 of the Twin Thin Teik Win’s Chronicles of Alaungpaya’s battles, it was recorded as only three warships.

After Alaungpaya captured Pegu, and at the parade, those Pathi Muslim soldiers were allowed to march with their traditional uniforms. [80] Four hundred Pathi Indian soldiers participated in the Royal Salute March. [81] [82]

King Bodawpaya Bodaw U Wine (Padon Mayor, Padon Min) (1781-1819) of the Konbaung Dynasty founded Amarapura as his new capital in 1783. He was the first Burmese King who recognized his Muslim subjects officially by the following Royal decree. He appointed Abid Shah Hussaini and assistants, Nga Shwe Lu and Nga Shwe Aye to decide and give judgment regarding the conflicts and problems amongst his Burmese Muslim subjects. [83] Abid Shah Hussaini burial place was well known as a shrine in Amarapura Lin Zin Gone Darga.

Before Ramu and Pan War battles, Captain Nay Myo Gone Narrat Khan Sab Bo’s 70 Cavalry (horse) Regiment’s marching among the Burmese army, was watched by Maha Bandula. [84]Burmese Muslim Horsemen were famous in that Khan Sab Bo’s 70 Cavalry (horse) Regiment. Khan Sab Bo’s name was Abdul Karim Khan and was the father of the Captain Wali Khan, famous Wali Khan Cavalry Regiment during King Mindon and King Thibaw.

Khan Sab Bo was sent as an Ambassador to Indo China by Bagyidaw. During Bagyidaw’s reign, in 1824, Gaw Taut Pallin battle was famous. British used 10,000 soldiers but defeated. During that battle Khan Sab Bo’s 100 horsemen fought vigorously and bravely. [85]More than 1300 loyal brave Kala Pyo Muslims (means young Indian soldiers) were awarded with colourful velvety uniforms. [86]

When Konbaung Dynasty’s 8th. Tharrawaddy Min (King) marched Okkalapa, more than 100 Pathi Muslim Indian Cannoners took part. [87] There are also a lot of Muslim soldiers in other parts of the Tharrawaddy Min’s army.

But during the Konbaung Dynasty’s 9th. Pagan Min 1846-52 there was a blemish in Muslim’s history. Royal Capital Amarapura’s Mayor Bai Sab and his clerk U Pain were arrested and sentenced to death.

[edit] King Mindon

During Pagan Min reign, Mindon Prince and brother Ka Naung Prince run away with their servants to Shwebo and started a rebellion. U Bo and U Yuet were the two Muslims who accompanied the princes. Some Kala Pyo Burmese Muslim artillery soldiers followed them. [88]U Boe later built and donated the June Mosque, which is still maintained in 27th. street, Mandalay. U Yuet became the Royal Chief Chef.

Regent Prince Ka Naung sent scholars to study abroad. Malar Mon @ U Pwint was a Burmese Muslim sent to study the explosives. He became the Yan Chet won or Minister of explosives.

In the Royal Defence Army, many Cannoners were Kindar Kala Pyos and Myedu Muslims. [89]

In 1853 King Mindon held a donation ceremony. He ordered to prepare halal food for his Muslim soldiers from, Akbart Horse Cavalry, Wali Khan Horse Cavalry, Manipur Horse Cavalry and Sar Tho Horse Cavalry altogether about 700 of them.

U Soe was the Royal tailor of King Mindon . [90]

Kabul Maulavi was appointed an Islamic Judge by King Mindon to decide according to the Islamic rules and customs on Muslim affairs.

Captain Min Htin Min Yazar’s 400 Muslims participated to clear the land for building a new Mandalay city.

Burmese Muslims were given specific quarters to settle in the new city of Mandalay[91]

  1. Sigaing dan

  2. Kone Yoe dan

  3. Taung Balu

  4. Oh Bo

  5. Setkyer Ngwezin

  6. June Amoke Tan

  7. Wali Khan Quarter

  8. Taik Tan Qr

  9. Koyandaw Qr (Royal Bodyguards’ Qr)

  10. Ah Choke Tan

  11. Kala Pyo Qr

  12. Panthay dan for the Burmese Chinese Muslims. [92]

In those quarters, lands for 20 Mosques were allocated out side the Palace wall. [93] [94]

  1. Sigaing dan Mosque

  2. Kone Yoe Mosque

  3. Taung Balu Mosque

  4. June Mosque

  5. Koyandaw Mosque

  6. Wali Khan Mosque

  7. Kala Pyo Mosque

  8. Seven lots of lands for Setkyer Ngwezin

  9. King Mindon donated his palace teak pillars to build a mosque at North Obo in central Mandalay. (The pillars which failed to place properly at the exact time given by astrologers.)

  10. The broadminded King Mindon also permitted a mosque to be built on the granted site for the Panthays (Burmese Chinese Muslims)[95][96] Photos of Mandalay Panthay mosque.[27]

Inside the Palace wall, for the Royal Body Guards, King Mindon himself donated and started the building of the Mosque by laying the Gold foundation at the South-eastern part of the Palace located near the present Independent Monument. This Mosque was called the Shwe Pannet Mosque. That mosque was destroyed by the British to build the Polo playground.

King Mindon (1853-78) donated the rest house in Mecca for his Muslim subjects performing Hajj.[97] Nay Myo Gonna Khalifa U Pho Mya and Haji U Swe Baw were ordered to supervise the building. The Kind donated the balance needed to complete the building which was started with the donations from the Burmese Muslims. This was recorded in the Myaedu Mosque Imam U Shwe Taung’s poems.[98]

[edit] King Thibaw

Muslim soldiers who participated in the Royal Parade during King Thibaw’s reign were_

  1. Captain Bo Min Htin Kyaw and his 350 Kindar Kala Pyo artillery soldiers.

  2. Setkyer Cannon Regiment Captain Hashim and 113 Cannoners

  3. Mingalar Cannon Regiment Captain U Kye and 113 Cannoners

  4. Mingalar Amyoke Sulay Kone Captain U Maung and 113 Cannoners

  5. Mingalar Amyoke Bone Oh Captain U Yauk and 113 Cannoners. [99]

After King Thibaw’s declaration of war on the British, Burmese Army formed three groups to descend and defend the British attack. One of those, Taung Twingyi defence chief was, Akhbat Horse Calvery Chief, Mayor of Pin Lae Town, Minister Maha Min Htin Yar Zar. His name was U Chone when he was the Chief Clerk of Kala Pyo Army. During the Myin Kun Myin Khone Tain revolt, he carried the Chief queen of Mindon on his back to safety. So he was rewarded with the Mayor position of Pin Lae Myo which was located 12 miles south of Myittha. [100]

Under Maha Min Htin Yar Zar there were 1629 soldiers:

  1. Kindar Captain Bo Min Hla Min Htin Kyaw Thu’s 335 Kindar soldiers two cannon and Sein let Yae 3 regiments

  2. Shwe Pyi Captain Bo Min Hla Min Htin Thamain Than Like and Shwe Pyi 100 soldiers, one cannon and Sein let Yae 2 regiments

  3. Wali Khan’s 990 Akhbat Horse Calvery and Sein let Yae 20 regiments

  4. Specially trained 200 soldiers.[101]

On 28 November 1885, after the British took over the administration, the British revamp the new administration with, Kin Won Min Gyi, Tai Tar Min Gyi, the Minister Maha Min Htin Yar Zar U Chone was included as the representative of the Parliament.

[edit] Muslim Mogul Emperor of India

The last Muslim Mogul Emperor of India, Abu Za’far Saraj al-Din Bahadur Shah and his family members and some followers were exiled to Yangon, Myanmar. He died in Yangon and was buried on 7.11.1862.[102]
After the British took over the whole Burma all sub groups of Burmese-Muslims formed numerous organizations, active in social welfare and religious affairs.

[edit] Mosques in Yangon

1.Surtee Mosque

Surtee mosque is situated in Mogul Road and is one of the biggest mosques in Yangon. It was built by Surtees who migrated from India during the World War II. The mosque displays architecture that’s similar to the mosques in India. Most people who pray in this mosque are surtees. Most weddings that take place in this mosque are those of the surtees and the chief reason why the surtees have their marriage in this mosque is because the way the mosque is built reflects their own culture. The mosque has constant renovations, but the basic architecture is never changed.

2.Rakine Jamae Mosque(Arakan Mosque)

Rakine Jame Mosque is situated in Yangon. It is located in 130th street in Mingalar Townyunt Township. It is one of the biggest mosque in Yangon. The mosque was built at the time of Burmese King Dynasty. The exact time is still unknown. Rakine Mosque was established by the people(Arakans) who came from Rakhine state (a state of Myanmar). These people gave the name of the mosque as Arakan Mosque. However this name was changed into Rakhine Mosque.

Continue reading

Islam in Myanmar; Demographics, Religion and society

Demographics

Islam in Myanmar; Demographics, Religion and society

October 13th, 2007

Various groups of Myanmar Muslims

  • Muslims are spread across the country in small communities. The Indian-descended Muslims live mainly in Rangoon. See Burmese Indian Muslims.

  • Another notable Muslim group are the Arakan-based Rohingya people, classified as “Bengali Muslims” due to their ancestral connection with Bengal.

  • Panthay (Burmese Chinese Muslims).

  • Pashu or Moken

[edit] Religion and society

[edit] The Supreme Court of Rangoon

The Lordship of the Supreme Court of Rangoon remarked: “… Today, in the various parts of Burma, there are people who, because of the origin and the isolated way of life, are totally unlike the Burmese in appearance of speak of events which had occurred outside the limits of their habitation. They are nevertheless statutory citizens under the Union (of Burma) Citizenship Act….. Thus mere race or appearance of a person or whether he has a knowledge of any language of the Union is not the test as to whether he is a citizen of the Union”.[103]

Democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said that she has a great respect for other religions.

[edit] Myanmar Ministry of Religious Affairs’ official declaration

Myanmar Ministry of Religious Affairs’ official declaration about the Freedom of Religion in Myanmar[28]

All ethnic groups, in Myanmar have been having throughout the country since time immemorial. They have been living united in peace and harmony since the time of ancient Myanmar kings. Myanmar kings, in return, looked after the members of other religious faiths by kindly giving them religious, social and economic opportunities equally with Buddhists. It is well known that, in order to enable his Majesty’s royal servants to fulfill their religious duties, Rakhine frame Mosque, Half-broken Mosque, Panthe Mosque, Mandalay Battery Ward Mosque and Christian Churches were allowed to build and perform respective religious duties during successive Myanmar kings. The Parton of the Fifth Buddhist Syncd, King Mindone (1854 to 1878), during his rule built a Peacock rest house in the Holy City of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the Muslims from Myanmar who went there on Haj pilgrimage to stay comfortably while they were there for about one and a half months. It is the most glaring testimony in Myanmar history of how Myanmar kings looked after their Muslim subjects benevolently.[104]

Since the time ancient Myanmar kings until the present day, successive Myanmar governments have given all four major religions an equal treatment. All the followers of each religion have been allowed to profess their respective religious faith and perform their respective duties freely. Myanmar’s culture is based on loving kindness; the followers of Islam, Christianity and Hinduism in Myanmar are also kind-hearted people as Myanmar Buddhists are.

[edit] Unfortunate incidences of Muslims in Myanmar

Unfortunate incidences of Muslims in Burmese History

The first Muslim recorded in Burmese history

The first Muslim documented in Burmese history (recorded in Hmannan Yazawin or Glass Palace Chronicle) was Byat Wi during the Mon, Thaton King’s reign. (It was at about 1050 AD). He was killed not because he was a Muslim but because the king was worried about of his strength. [105]

Shwe Byin brothers Martyred

The second two persons killed later were his nephews. The two sons of his brother Byat Ta, known as Shwe Byin brothers. These children were executed because they refused to obey the forced labour order of the king, may be because of their religious belief. [106]But it is sure that they were killed not because they were Muslims nor because they failed to contribute to the building of the pagoda but because the king or people walking in the corridors of powers in the royal court were worried of their popularity and skills. It was clearly recorded in the Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma that they were not trusted any more. [107]

Assassination of Nga Yaman Kan

Rahman Khan (Nga Yaman Kan) was another Muslim killed for political reason, because of treason to his own king and clearly not a religious persecution. It was during wartime, the famous national hero, King Kyansittha sent a hunter as a sniper to assassinate him. [108] [109]

Massacre in Arakan

Another mass killings of Muslims in Arakan may be not for the religion but likely to be due to politics and greed only. Shah Shuja’ was the second son of the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan who built the famous Taj Mahal of India. Shah Shuja’ lost to his brother and fled with his family and army in to Arakan. Sandathudama (1652-1687 AD), the Arakan King accepted and allow him to settle there. He wanted to continue to buy ships to go to Mecca and was willing to pay with silver and gold. But the Arakan king asked for his daughter and also became greedy to get all the wealth. At last after an alleged unsuccessful attempt of rebellion the sultan and all his followers were killed. All men seen with beard, the symbol of Islam, were beheaded not because they were Muslims but just easily identified from others from these features. Women were put into prison and let them die with hunger. Therefore that massacre was targeted at Muslims refugees from India not because of their religion, Islam, but for the economic or political reason.[110] [111] [112] [113] [114] [115]

Muslims under Bayintnaung

Muslims served under Burmese king Bayintnaung (1550-1589 AD). [116] In 1559 AD after conquering Bago (Pegu) he prohibited the Muslims from doing halal (killing by cutting the throat under the name of Allah) of goats and chicken. He showed some religious intolerance and had forced some of his subjects to listen to Buddhist sermons and some were even said to be converted by force. He also disallowed the Edil Adha, Kurbani sacrifice of cattle. [117]

Muslims under Alaungpaya

King Alaungpaya (1752-1760) prohibited Muslims to do halal on cattle. [118]

Bodawpaya

King Bodawpaya (1782-1819) arrested four famous Myanmar Muslims Moulvis (Imams) from Myedu and killed them in Ava, capital after they refused to eat pork. [119] According to the Myedu Muslims and Myanmar Muslims version there were seven dark days after that execution and the king later apologize and recognized them as saints.[120]

[edit] Racial and religious Riots

Under British Imperialism

Imperialism gives birth to its own antithesis, the movement for national liberation among the colonial countries and the social revolutionary movement of the working-class.Communalism is a phenomenon hitherto unknown to Burma. Burmans are known abroad as hospitable people and as such, they are friendly to foreigners, especially to Indians to whose country Burma owes her cultural heritage. Racial hatred against Indians was a thing unheard of in Burma. Prior to 1930, Indians had even taken part in the movement for political independence. The Burmans on their part, also had demonstrated their solidarity with the Indian struggle for freedom. Dhobama Asi-Ayone, a nationalist organisation with socialist tendencies, the vanguard of the anti-imperialist struggle in Burma, have made various attempts to bring the two communities together. Dhobama Asi-Ayone has widened its scope by including the Indian masses. In all the workers’ struggles under the leadership of Dhobama Asi-Ayone, the Indian workers are fighting side by side with their Burmese comrades. Imperialism could not tolerate the growing solidarity of the Indians and the Burmans.[121]

Anti Indian and anti Muslim sentiments started during British rule

Anti Indian sentiments started after the First World War during the British rule. [122] In Burma there were half million Muslims in 1921. More then half of Indians were Indian Muslims. [123] Although Myanmar Muslims are different from the Indian Muslims and Indian Myanmar Muslims, Burmese Buddhists put them together even mixed with Hindu Indians, and called them Kala.[124]

The root of this hatred was_ [125] [126]

  1. Different in religion.

  2. Basic anti foreigner feelings.

  3. Low standard of living of the recent migrants.

  4. Recent migrants willingness to do, Dirty, Difficult and Dangerous jobs.

  5. Indians took over the Burmese lands especially Chittiers.

  6. Indians had already filled up and monopolized the government services when the Burmese were later ready for those jobs.

  7. Professional competition.

  8. World economic recession of 1930 aggravated the competition for the reduced economic pie.

1930 anti-Indian riots

In 1930 there was an anti-Indian riots in Burma under British rule.

The problem started in Yangon port, because of the irresponsible action of the British firm of Stevedores. It had employed hundreds of Indian labourers. While those Indians were on strike, that firm had employed the Burmese workers just to break the strike. So the Indians had to give in and ended the strike. Next morning when the Burmese workers came and report for work they were told by the British firm that their service was no more needed. Some of the Indian workers who were angry because they had to end the strike at failure because of these Burmese workers laughed at them. Some Burmese workers were angry and started the fight and Indians retaliate. It grew rapidly into anti Indian (including anti Muslims) riots. Even within the first half-hour at least two hundred Indians were massacred and flung into the river. Authorities ordered the police to fire upon any assembly of five or more who refuse to lay down the arms, under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. That was a black day of 26 May. Within two days it spread to the whole country and no one knew the exact causality. [127]

Anti Muslim riots in 1938

There was another anti Muslim riots in 1938, while still under British rule. The real basic hidden agenda was aimed at British Government but the Burmese dare not show this openly. The growing Nationalistic sentiments fanned by the local media disguised as anti Muslim to avoid the early detection and notice followed by the full blown force of mighty British Government machinery.Throughout the Burmese struggles against British rule, all the political issues, movements, meetings, demonstrations, riots, rebellions and even the revolutions were instigated, inspired, influenced and led by newspapers. [128] [129]

Burma for Burmese Campaign

Burmese started the Burma for Burmese only Campaign. Then marched to the Muslim (Surti) Bazar. [130] While the Indian Police broke the violent demonstration, three monks were hurt. Burmese Newspapers use the pictures of Indian police attacking the Buddhist monks to further incite the spread of riots.[131] Muslim properties: shops, houses and mosques were looted, destroyed and burnt to ashes. They assaulted and even massacred the Muslims. It spreads to all over Burma and recorded that 113 mosques were damaged. [132]

British Official White Paper

This paragraph’s basic facts are taken from Maurice Collis’ “Trials in Burma”. He was the judge in Rangoon, eye witnessed the riots and wrote his book based on the British Official White Paper given by, The Simon Commission. (The Royal Statutory Commission, appointed according to the Law of the Government of India1919, The Montague-Chelmsford Law.) [133]

The Inquiry Committee by British

On 22.9.38. British Governor set up the Inquiry Committee. [134] They found out that the real cause was the discontent in the government regarding the deterioration in sociopolitical and economic conditions of Burmans. [135] The book was used as an inciting factor by the irresponsible Burmese newspapers. [136] They use the anti Muslim propaganda as a disguise to cover up for the political struggle to gain independence.So the Buddhist used the Muslims as a scapegoat, for the first time, to fight against the British.

The Simon Commission (The Royal Statutory Commission, appointed according to the Law of the Government of India1919, The Montague-Chelmsford Law) to inquire the effects of Dyarchy system of ruling Burma, had recommended that special places be assigned to the Myanmar Muslims in the Legislative Council.

It recommended that full rights of citizenship should be guaranteed to all the minorities: the right of free worship, the right to follow their own customs, the right to own property and to receive a share of the public revenues for the maintenance of their own educational and charitable institutions. It recommended Home Rule or independent government separate from India or the status of dominion.

But the British Government refused to accept all those recommended except the separation, at the round table committee on India held in London in 1930.

Muslims under U Nu

AFPFL expelled Burma Muslim Congress [137]

The BMC, Burma Muslim Congress was founded almost at the same time with the AFPFL, Anti-Fascist Peoples’ Freedom Party of General Aung San and U Nu before World War Two. [138]

Prime Minister U Nu, just few months after independence of Burma, requested the Burma Muslim Congress to resign its membership from AFPFL. In response to that U Khin Maung Lat, the new President of BMC decided to discontinue the Islamic Religious activities of the BMC and rejoined the AFPFL.

U Nu removed the Burma Muslim Congress from AFPFL on 30.9.1956. BMC was asked to dissolve since 1955.

Later U Nu decreed the Buddhism as the state religion of Burma against the will of the Ethnic Minorities and various religious organizations including Myanmar Muslims.

Muslims under General Ne Win

When General Ne Win swept to power on a wave of nationalism in 1962, the status of Muslims changed for the worse. Muslims were expelled from the army and were rapidly marginalized[29]. The generic racist slur of “kala” (black) used against perceived “foreigners” has especially negative connotations when referring to Burmese Muslims.[30]

The dictatorial government, which operates a pervasive internal security apparatus, generally infiltrates or monitors the meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations.[31] Accusations of “terrorism” are made against Muslim organizations such as the All Burma Muslim Union.[32] [33] Many Muslims have joined armed resistance groups who are fighting for greater freedoms in Myanmar.[34]

Bertil Lintner predicted the 1988 Anti-Muslim riot

Being familiar with the above usual maneuver, adopted by the Burma Military Government, Bertil Lintner, famous Sweden journalist expert on Burma, was certain that the economic failure and political dissent would be covered up by inciting anti-Muslim racial riots. The premonitions and predictions he made made since 17th. of April 1988 in the Bangkok Post, really come true within a couple of months’ time. [139] Myanmar Government agents managed successfully to incite the anti-Muslim riots in Taung Gyi and Prome, the native town of Ne Win. Hundreds of Muslims were killed especially in Prome. Properties of Muslims were looted or were put to the torch. Houses, shops, mosques, Muslim religious schools and even the Muslim orphanage were destroyed in those areas. The Military Intelligence chief Brigadier General Tin Oo surreptitiously launched an anti-Muslim campaign in Min Doan and Kyone Doe but that attempt, fizzled out and failed to create widespread community riots in the country. After that some of the Muslim victims fled to the east near Burma Thailand border and formed a group of Muslim freedom fighters who vowed to fight against the central Burmese Government.[140]

Anti-Muslim Riots in Mandalay (1997)

The racial tension in March 1997 between Buddhists and Muslims and the attack on Muslim properties was apparently masterminded by the ruling regime in Burma. The bronze Buddha statue in the Maha Myatmuni pagoda, originally from the Arakan, brought to Mandalay by King Bodawpaya in 1784 AD was renovated by the authorities. The Mahamyat Muni statue was broken open, leaving a gaping hole in the statue, and it was generally presumed that the regime was searching for the Padamya Myetshin, a legendary ruby that ensures victory in war to those who possess it.[141]

On 16 March 1997 beginning at about 3:30 p.m. a mob of about 1,000/1,500 Buddhist monks and others shouted anti-Muslim slogans without provocation of any kind on the part of the Muslims. They targeted the mosques first for attack, followed by Muslim shop-houses and transportation vehicles in the vicinity of mosques, damaging, destroying, looting, and trampling, burning the religious books, committing acts of sacrilege. The area where the acts of damage, destruction, and lootings committed in Kaingdan, Mandalay.[142]The unrest in Mandalay allegedly began after reports of an attempted rape of a girl by Muslim men. At least three people have been killed and around 100 monks arrested. [143]

Anti-Muslim Riots in Taungoo(2001)

In 2001,Myo Pyauk Hmar Soe Kyauk Hla Tai (or) The Fear of Losing One’s Race and many other anti-Muslim pamphlets were widely distributed by monks. Distribution of the pamphlets was also facilitated by the Union of Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). The USDA is the civilian support wing of the military regime.[144] Many Muslims feel that this exacerbated the anti-Muslim feelings that had been provoked by the destruction in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. [145] The above anti-Buddhist actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan (the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan) was used as a pretext to commit violence against Muslims in Myanmar by Buddhist mobs. Human Rights Watch reports that there was mounting tension between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in Taungoo for weeks before it erupted into violence in the middle of May 2001.Buddhist monks demanded that the Hantha Mosque in Taungoo be destroyed in “retaliation” for the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan.[35] Mobs of Buddhists, led by monks, vandalized Muslim-owned businesses and property and attacked and killed Muslims in Muslim communities. [146]Buddhist monks demanded that the ancient Hantha Mosque in Taungoo be destroyed in retaliation for the destruction in Bamiyan.[147] On May, 18, however, Han Tha mosque and Taungoo Railway station mosque were razed to ground by bulldozers owned by the SPDC junta..[148]On May, 15, 2001, anti-Muslim riots broke out in Taungoo, Pegu division, resulting in the deaths of about 200 Muslims, in the destruction of 11 mosques and setting ablaze of over 400 houses. On May, 15, the first day of the anti-Muslim uprisings, about 20 Muslims who were praying in the Han Tha mosque were killed and some were beaten to death by the pro-junta forces. On May, 17, 2001, Lt. General Win Myint, Secretary No.3 of the SPDC and deputy Home and Religious minister arrived and curfew was imposed there in Taungoo. All communication lines were disconnected.[149]The mosques in Taungoo remained closed as of May 2002. Muslims have been forced to worship in their homes. Local Muslim leaders complain that they are still harassed. After the violence, many local Muslims moved away from Taungoo to other nearby towns and as far away as Yangon. After two days of violence the military stepped in and the violence immediately ended.[150]There also were reports that local government authorities alerted Muslim elders in advance of the attacks and warned them not to retaliate to avoid escalating the violence. While the details of how the attacks began and who carried them out were unclear by year’s end, the violence significantly heightened tensions between the Buddhist and Muslim communities. [151]

Anti-Muslim Riots in Sittwe (2001)

There is constant tension between Buddhists and Muslims in Sittwe.The resentments are deeply rooted, and result from both communities feeling that they are under siege from the other. The violence in February 2001 flared up after an incident in which seven young monks refused to pay a Muslim stall holder for cakes they had just eaten. The Muslim seller, a woman, retaliated by beating one of the novices, said a Muslim eyewitness. Several more senior monks then came to protest and a brawl ensued, he said. One of the monks was hit over the head by the Muslim seller’s husband and started to bleed. Riots then broke out. A full- scale riot erupted after dusk and carried on for several hours. Buddhists poured gasoline on Muslim homes and properties and set them alight. More than thirty homes and a Muslim guesthouse were burned down.Police and soldiers reportedly stood by and did nothing to stop the violence initially.There are no reliable estimates of the death toll or the number of injuries. More than twenty died according to some Muslim activists. The fighting took place in the predominantly Muslim part of town and so it was predominantly Muslim property that was damaged.[152]

[edit] Agents provocateur

While the idea of monks actually leading rioters may seem unusual, certain details make it less so. Myanmar’s large and much feared MI or military intelligence service, the Directorate of Defense Security Intelligence is commonly believed to have agents working within the monkhood. The monks have always been courageous supporters of the democracy movement. It would seem that monitoring dissident monks is not their only function. Human Rights Watch also reported that monks in the 2001 riots were carrying mobile phones, a luxury not readily available to the Myanmar population – as very few without government connections can afford them. It is also reported that there was a clear split between monks who provoked violence and those who did not. It has been suggested by Human Rights Watch and others that these facts may reflect the presence of agents provocateur among the monks. [153]

If violence does once again break out, it will be agitators like Win Rathu at the lead. The abbot, a charismatic Burman named Win Rathu, is a highly respected leader among the Mandalay clergy whose tough talk has earned him the Hollywood-esque nickname “The Fighting Monk”. He is widely accepted as the leader of a growing anti-Muslim movement. Back in Win Rathu’s office, the tranquil smiling continued as he switched on a digital video camera, a Compaq PC, and an air conditioner – all incredible luxuries for anyone in this desperately poor country, and especially unusual material possessions for an avowed ascetic monk.

And this religious violence threatens to divert the world’s attention from the real issue in Myanmar – the continuing deprivation of its people’s prosperity by an unpopular military dictatorship. [154]As the world continues to glare at Myanmar’s ruling junta for its ongoing oppression of the country’s popular democracy movement, it is hardly by coincidence that tensions between Buddhists and Muslims, in the past instigated by Yangon in times of political crisis, are on the rise again.[155]

Continue reading