Opposition parties slam govt over changing terminology used for Rakhine Muslim minority

Naypyidaw : Nationalist politicians are criticizing the government for pushing an official change of terminology used to refer to a Muslim minority in Rakhine State.

The government has asked to refer to the Rakhine Muslim minority as ‘the Muslim community from Rakhine State’ rather than using controversial terms “Bengali” or ” Rohingya”

The Arakan National Party (ANP) said in a statement that they totally reject any other term besides “Bengalis” to refer to the mostly stateless minority which self-identifies as “Rohingya”, reports Myanmar Times.

ANP’s Secretary U Tun Aung Kyaw stating that addressing them as ‘Muslim community from Rakhine State’ makes it sounds as if they have always lived in the state and Rakhine is their place of origin, added it will create more opportunities for them to attain citizenship as it is like accepting they are Myanmar nationals.

The National Prosperity Party, also released a statement urging the government to reconsider the official terms, saying the change could cause the international community to “mistake the origins of the Bengalis”.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has asked several visiting dignitaries to refrain from using controversial terms “Rohingya” or “Bengali”, including most recently the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee.

The Ministry of Information also instructed state media on June 16 to use “Muslims in Rakhine State” instead of “Rohingya” or “Bengali”, and also said it should be “Buddhists of Rakhine State” instead of ethnic Rakhine or Arakan.

The previous administration, which stripped over 660,000 Muslims in the state of their “white card” IDs and the right to vote, officially used the term ” Bengali”, implying the community had migrated from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Muhammad Salim, the patron of the National Development and Peace Party, a Muslim political group, welcomed the government’s change in terminology, calling it a step forward.(ANI)