In 1826, Burma lost the First Anglo-Burmese War to the British who were ruling India.
MAP: Burma and Bangladesh (previously a part of India) are neighbouring countries
Having lost the war, King Bagyidaw of Burma was forced to sign the Treaty of Yandabo with the British victors. Under the terms of the treaty, Burma had to cede Arakan and other lands to the British.
MAP: Rakhine state (Arakan) in Burma today is contiguous with Bangladesh
Loss of national sovereignty when Burma was absorbed into India
The ceding of Arakan and other territories marked the beginning of British rule in Burma.
By 1885, Britain had conquered Burma and deposed her king. As a consequence of the Third Anglo-Burmese War, Burma not only became a part of the British Empire but more humiliatingly, was made a province of India under the rule of the British Raj.
The first commissioner of the “province” of British Burma in 1862 was Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Arthur Purves Phayre who later in 1883 published his book, History of Burma.
MAP: Chittagong in present-day Bangladesh borders Rakhine/Arakan in Burma (Note: Bangladesh was only created as a modern country in 1971)
British imperialism messed up Burma’s demography
A.P. Phayre recorded that thousands of coolies emigrated from the Chittagong district in the 1830s to work in Arakan. Chittagong is located in the Bengal region and its people are called Bengali.
Over the next few decades, the British encouraged a massive immigration of Bengali Muslim labourers into Arakan until the Muslim population (called “Chittagonian” then, Rohingya today) were almost the same number as the Arakanese natives.
Essentially, the British did the same to Burma as they did to Malaya.
In Malaya, the British brought in Indian labourers as well as allowed Chinese mass migration until the Malays were no longer the dominant race. In Burma, the British brought in Indian (Bengali) labourers to the point that the native Buddhist Rakhine were no longer the dominant race in some areas of Arakan.
Impact of British colonial economy and policies on the natives
In the 1921 census of Burma, Muslims were listed as “Mahomedan” at the same time Bengalis were listed as “Indians” and with some overlap in the categories.
There was resentment of the Indian Muslim immigrants by the locals and anti-Indian riots broke out in Burma during the colonial period.
Burma and Malaya share another historical parallel in the bloodshed that occurred during World War Two resulting from ethnic conflict. In Malaya, Sino-Malay clashes broke out in late 1945 and early 1946 during the brief period called interregnum, i.e. after the Japanese surrendered and before British troops returned to Malaya.
In Arakan Burma, communal violence between Arakanese Buddhists and Muslim Chittagonians erupted in 1942-1943 – a short period of anarchy between the evacuation by the British from the area and the occupation by Japanese troops.
Burma achieved independence from British rule in January 1948. Unlike Malaya that granted Chinese and Indians citizenship, Burma did not grant citizenship to the Bengalis.
BELOW: “The British empire subjugated people across the world, including here in Burma in 1887”
(Picture credit: http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/8882/No+defence+for+the+British+empire)
Destructive legacy of British empire in their former colonies
The British had brought masses of Indian labourers into Malaya and today, the poor among this Indian community – particularly the DEWs (Displaced Estate Workers) – are marginalized Hindus in a Muslim country, with some left stateless.
The British brought masses of Indian labourers into Burma and today, this Bengali community in Arakan/Rakhine are marginalized Muslims in a Buddhist country, with many left stateless.
Hindraf sued the British crown for the dismal condition of the poorest class of Indians in Malaysia but their lawsuit was recently struck out by the High Court in London. Nonetheless, it doesn’t absolve the British imperialists from the race-and-religion havoc caused by the legacy of imperialism in the colonies they ruled.
Presently with the Rohingya refugee boats floating in the sea and rejected by Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, fingers of blame have been pointed at Myanmar. But the problem actually originated with the British looters who were so very greedy for the 3Gs – Gold, Glory and (spreading the) Gospel.
The creed of “manifest destiny” that justifies white supremism and making the missionary Christians think they can arrogantly impose their will on Asian, African and Caribbean territories is today inherited by the born again evangelical Christians.
Beware. Our countries are may yet be once again subjugated by anti-nationalist forces.
16 thoughts on “Rohingya might want to sue the British ala Hindraf class action suit”
The Rohingya are but the latest wave of illegal immigrants who are part of a highly organized international business of cheap and slave labour. They are transported by any means available (often unsafe illegal means) to places where but for the masses of lowly paid workers the economy will likely collapse or suffer the effects of Chinese alternatives. They must compete. They turn a blind eye. Indonesia actively engages in people smuggling in the region along with organized groups of Filipinos. It is endemic. It is worldwide.
People in the west spend millions of dollars on Daw worship (Daw is the other name they use to refer to Aung San Suu Kyi- the daughter of privilege and so called pro democracy leader of Myanmar (formerly Burma)). Yet none of them except perhaps the Red Cross (to justify its existence) make any effort to address these issues like the mass murder of Rohingya in Myanmar by mobs led by radical Buddhist Monks.
Burma was a part of the India much before the British formally annexed the Burmese Kingdoms. The people of all north eastern states of India have a similar blood and physical features. Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Assam, Bengal, all have identical (generally speaking) Meghalaya all have similar features a common ethnic bond and use the deva nagri script in their language also derived from Sanskrit.
If the Rohingya are to sue they must not make the mistakes of people like Waytha Murthi. I am being specific because he failed to take heed of the flaws in his approach, thereby ruining the chances of the Tamils and others like them to ever be able to seek proper redress in the courts of Westminster. The newly re elected Cameron government will pass laws now to prevent such a thing happening again.
It is not impossible to bring the Brits to task but more difficult now.
listen…if u talk like that,we muslim worl will liberate the arakan in one night …if u can hold us
You can’t hold your dick you won’t take Arakan in 100 nights. Liberate Palestine first. Thats nearly 70 years now.
Taj, speak of your own mind, not of all muslims (to whom I belong). look to the issue wisely and stop treating things in a sectarian way.. What you see today is the result of imperialist-incited sectarianism .. wisdom is needed.
Agreed. British imperialism or European imperialism was rooted in greed. They came, they forced the Rulers to submit with gunboat threat .
They were mere looters. They had no respects to cultures. They burnt down houses, palaces. I remember watching an epic movie on The Emperor of China fleeing Forbidden City when Anglo-French armies advanced to Peking.
When the sultans refused their request, they installed puppet rulers. Sultan of riau-Lingga, Johor refused Raffles request to lease Singapore. so he installed another Sultan.
They gave away territories that are not theirs. Huge chunk of Kedah was given to Thailand just like that. A part of Kelantan was carved out and given to Thailand.
They love to preach. I have enough of these white men on preaching democracy and human rights to us when they ruled us, they never talk about democracy.
re: “I have enough of these white men on preaching democracy and human rights to us when they ruled us, they never talk about democracy.”
Yup, the preaching hypocrites. Like you said @ 2015/05/16 at 7:45 am , “As for Hannah, she is a hypocrite. She better cook something for these misplaced people. Then she knows how messy it is. Tweeting is easy.” (Hannah preaching here and there and everywhere)
The hypocrisy will be much worse when the DAP rules over you.
Yup, then they had the guns and the ships.
Now they have financial levers to pull.
Life is a b***h, isn’t it?
Whatever dissatisfaction or anger Malaysians (especially the Malays) have on BN, I hope they realise that life under hypocrite DAP is much worse.
I notice that DAP service is wanting. They could not be bothered with flood issues, cleaniness or urban housing.
re: “They could not be bothered with flood issues, cleaniness or urban housing.”
But they’re at the forefront tweeting themselves as the Angels of Mercy on this Rohingya flotilla issue.
And what do you propose to do about it?
Take Thailand to the ICJ and sue for the return of the “huge chunk of Kedah” and the “part of Kelantan” you alluded to?
Or take Singapore to the ICJ and sue for a decision that it was part of “riau-Lingga”?
And when you write about “puppet rulers” being installed by the British colonial administration, aren’t you verging perilously close to sedition?
Therefore, why don’t you take the initiative to “preach” to the Malaysian government what it should be doing to redress all these alleged wrongs?
Though after the ICJ decision on Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Putih, I doubt there’s much stomach for such judicial proceedings further down the line.
What make you think I propose all that. I was just telling about British imperialism. Where centuries ago they landed on our shores and using gunboat to force unequal treaties, nowadays they preach democracy and human right to whack us.
And many of us happily accepting their insult. Who are they to preach when their records are much worse.
as for territories carved out, let bygone be bygone. or all countries in this regions will be at war. will indonesia be willing to cede Riau-Lingga to Johor back? Will thailand happily will return Satun, Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani back to Malaysia.
And your answer is…..?
Are you saying that “democracy” and “human rights” are alien and unwelcome concepts to those with a feudalistic mindset?
If your answer to that is “yes”, then that would account for a lot of what is happening these days.
As for the Rohingya issue, Helen is being hypocritical. No where in her blog has she criticised the Myanmar government and taken it to task about it is treating the mainly Muslim Rohingyas.
Yes, “mainly Muslim” Rohingyas. Why the silence from her about Myanmar and her slavering willingness to keep on attacking Hannah Yeoh and other parties?
Is it because that in the case of the “mainly Muslim” Rohingyas, their religion and the way they are treated in Myanmar is secondary to Helen’s “crusade” against evangelistas, The Star and other associated individuals and groups?
Maybe Helen feels she is not qualified to voice off on regional politics and that’s it is easier to go after more convenient targets!
Looking at the plight of the Rohingya, all I can think is “there but for the grace of God go I”.
Being a Chindian, my great/grandparents, too, sailed here a century ago to escape famine and poverty. They, too, were wooed by the British colonial government.
But, unlike for the unfortunate Rohingya, they, and hundreds of thousands of their countrymen, landed in Malaya where the majority Muslim Malays generously agreed to let them remain and become citizens.
My parents, when we were little, used to tell us stories of our immigrant past, and always reminded us that we should be grateful that the Malays allowed us to stay on.
“Grateful”, these days, is a word that gets some “Malaysians” spitting, cursing and frothing at the mouth.
‘Unlike Malaya that granted Chinese and Indians citizenship, Burma did not grant citizenship to the Bengalis.’
Tanah Melayu ada you know who, tu yang pemurah dan baik hati. Tu pun masih ada pendatang yang tak tau nak bersyukur. Dugaan…
The parties that brokered the Merdeka citizenship are “racist parties”, some people seem to think.
Thank you kak helen for the history lesson. I read rohingya history via wiki but you know it is wiki but at least have some info on the issue. As I thought the British Empire again they were very cunning to left a time bomb when they left in mostly every where. Very nice …
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