Burma Times Desk Report: January 18, 2015
The government of this country has always been hostile to names it does not like. The name Rohingya for example has always been fanatically resisted by the regime. Now the ancient name of their land is coming under fire too.
The Voice of Arakan newspaper has been under fire from the Burmese government which has warned that it must change its name to Voice of Rakhine. Arakan is used in the English issue of the newspaper while the Burmese version uses the Rakhine word.
The name Arakan was changed by the government in 1989 to Rakhine. The name change sent a clear message that the state’s inhabitants are all Rakhine Buddhists. Rohingyas, and even other Arakanese Muslims were from now foreigners from a neighbouring land or at best second class citizens.
As the reformist government came to power in 2011, a militant version of Buddhism became more visible. While many former enemies were welcomed into the government camp, Muslims were identified as the foreign enemy which must be exterminated. The government attempt to ban the word Arakan is part of this process.
Arakan is the name of the land to which the Muslim community of the region traces a beautiful past. By banning the name, once and for all, this is a strong message that the government wants this state only for the Rakhine Buddhist community and not the Arakanese Muslims.