Narinjara news

Rakhine community in Bangladesh needs attention

Dhaka, 7
th June 03:  Speakers at a seminar arranged by the Rakhaing Development Foundation  an NGO for integral development of the Rakhine community of Bangladesh stressed on the need for more attention on the developmental activities for the Rakhine community, the Independent reported today.

The seminar, “National Seminar on Promotion and Preservation of Rakhaing Language, Culture and Handicrafts”, assisted by the World Bank, was held in Dhaka.    Dr Mustafa Mazid presented the keynote paper “Rakhine National Identity: Language, Society and Culture”, while noted author Salimullah Khan discussed on the keynote paper.  Dr Mazid noted: “It has been more than two hundred years the Rakhine people are living in Cox’s Bazaar, Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Barguna and Patuakhali districts of Bangladesh.  During the last two hundred years, despite social and political changes, the Rakhine people remained one of the most neglected and underdeveloped community in Bangladesh.”

The Rakhine population in Bangladesh have been declining since 1961.  The seminar dwelt on the facts that natural disasters like tornadoes and tidal bores in 1961, 1965, 1970, 1991 and 1997 caused huge damage of land, property and lives of the Rakhines since they inhabit in the coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal.  “This community has been under increasing pressure to leave their homes and possessions from thugs patronized by the powerful majority (Bengali) community,” he added.

Dr Farash Uddin as the chief guest said that there is no alternative to education in empowering a backward community.  Out of the approximately 150,000 Rakhine populations in Bangladesh 80 percent families have no access to education, safe drinking water and homestead options.  About 70 percent Rakhine children are suffering from third-degree malnutrition and 80 percent youths remain unemployed.

Dr Chowdhury while reflecting on the keynote paper mentioned the lost and rich heritage of Rakhine language and culture.  Majority of the Rakhine community in Bangladesh migrated from Rakhine mainland after the Arakan  Burmese war of 1784, when the invading Burmese troops killed hundreds of thousands of Rakhines, forcing a large number of them to flee.  The migrants got settled in the unpopulated plains in the south and southeastern parts of Bangladesh, while the Arakanese kings once held sway over the Chittagong region before the Mughal invasion of Chittagong in 1666, and a large number of Rakhine community had been living in the region.

The Rakhines are also known as Arakanese, since the western historians adopted the name of Arakan for Rakhine Kingdom, and Arakanese for its inhabitants, the Rakhines. #