The Rohingya People from 8th Century till 2017, Short Timeline


As the Myanmarese security forces continue their ethnic cleansing attempt, with hundreds of reports of rape, shooting, fatal beating and burning, more than 120,000 Rohingya Muslims are fleeing to Bangladesh. Also over 30,000 are trapped in highlands of the Rakhin province without any food or water.

To better understand the conflict between the Rohingya and the Buddhist government of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), a brief history of the Rohingya Muslims could offer some clarity.

8th Century: the South Asian people of Rohingya, lived in an independent kingdom in Arakan, currently known as Rakhine province in Western Myanmar.

9th – 14th Century: Arab merchants introduced Islam to the Rohingya. Also Arakan and Bengal made close relations.

1784: Bodawpaya, the Burman King, conquered Arakan, causing hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to flee to Bengal.

1790: British diplomat Hiram Cox was assigned by the British monarchy to help the Rohingya refugees in Bengal. He established the Bazar of Cox town in Bangladesh. Many Rohingya Muslims still live there.

1824 – 1942: Britain colonized Burma, modern-day Myanmar, and declared it a province of British India. Britain then brought workers from other parts of British India to Burma to improve the infrastructure of the country.

1942: Japan attacked Burma, forcing the British to retreat. Burmese nationalists carried out a crackdown on Rohingya and Indian Muslim communities who they thought were in good terms with the British colonists.

1945: Britain returned to Burma and liberated it from the Japanese occupation. Burmese nationalists led by Aung San, who then fathered Aung San Suu Kyi, and Rohingya fighters helped the British liberate their country. However, the British betrayed the Rohingya as they didn’t give Arakan the autonomy they had promised before the attack.

1948: Burma received independence from Britain. The unsatisfied and betrayed Rohingya, who wanted Arakan province to join the mostly Muslim country of Pakistan, demanded the authorities to respect their wishes, which only increased the tensions. The new government of Burma responded to the tensions by ostracizing the Rohingya, including rejecting their civil servants.

1950: Some of the Rohingya started a resistance called Mujahids, who took arms to defend their rights and lands. However, the resistance died down as time passed.

1962: General Ne Win with Burma Socialist Program Party seized power and confronted the Rohingya with harsh methods.

1977: the junta started Operation Nagamin, also known as Dragon King, which allegedly aimed to screen the population for foreigners. During the operation more than 200,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh as allegations of army abuses had been reported. The junta denied the allegations and claimed it had done no such acts.

1978: Bangladesh, through UN, made a deal with Burma to return the Rohingya Muslims back to their state in Arakan, from which they were forced to flee. Under the terms of the new deal, most of the Rohingya refugees returned to Burma.

1982: The Burmese government passed a new immigration law which ruled all the immigrants who had migrated to Burma during the British rule as illegal. The new law was applied to all the Rohingya Muslims, who were considered Bangladeshi citizens.

1989: The Army, or junta, which wielded most of the power in Burma, changed the name of the country to Myanmar.

1991: More than 250,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, for the second time, as the army had attacked them. There were reports of forced labor, rape, religious persecution and no medical care. The Myanmar army claimed it was enforcing order to Arakan State.

1992 – 1997: Bangladesh forced another repatriation agreement that sent back 230,000 Rohingya refugees to Arakan. Arakan’s name was changed to Rakhine by then.

2012: Mobs of Buddhists armed with guns, long knives and swords attacked Rohingya Muslims. The riots killed more than 100 people, mostly Rohingyas. Over 150,000 of Rohingyas were forced into concentration camps in Rakhine, where they received no medical care. The Myanmarese government had rejected them human or civil rights and the most basic needs or services, also restricted them to the tightly bordered camps. On the other hand, around 168,000 Rohingya had, once again, fled to Bangladesh.

2014 – 2015: UN said 94,000 Rohingyas left Myanmar. About 5,000 people who made the journey by boats, were denied entry to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. At least 70 people died in the journey.

2016: Harakah al-Yagin, the Rohingya resistance groups, attacked border outposts in retaliation to the continuing oppression of the Myanmar security forces and the Buddhist community. Nine soldiers were killed during the attack. The Myanmar army then retaliated the attack, by wide crackdown and persecutions over Rohingya Muslims. More than 1,000 people were killed by the military and police. There were hundreds of reports of rape, slitting throats and burning Rohingya men, women and children alive. Village by village Myanmarese security forces killed the innocent Muslims and burned their houses to the ground. Myanmar was condemned of ethnic cleansing, religious persecution and genocide. Aung San Suu Kyi denied the atrocities.

2017: Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a resistance group who fights for the rights of Rohingya Muslims, attacked several border police stations killing 12 security forces’ members and taking at least 71 casualties. Myanmar military started an even wider attack on the Rohingya people than the October of 2016. UN reported 125,000 Rohingyas fled the country to Bangladesh on foot. Hundreds die as they try to cross the Naf River, which runs along the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar. In another report, the United Nations reported nearly 30,000 of the refugee Rohingyas are trapped in the mountains of Rakhine State, not having any access to food or water. Rohingyas who made it to Bangladesh reported indescribable acts of rapes, massacres and mass burning of men, women and children. Satellite images suggest the army has burned the Rohingya villages to the ground. UN accused Myanmar of genocide and ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims. Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of Myanmar and the Nobel Peace Prize winner, after a week of silence made her first comment on the Rohingya crisis. She said a “huge iceberg of misinformation” is being spread by the “fake media” to only benefit the “terrorists.” She added that her government is fighting the “terrorists” and is making sure that it doesn’t spread all over Rakhine State.



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