YANGON - Myanmar has no Rohingyas and will not accept the term, Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing told a press conference held at his offices on May 13.
The Union Daily asked about unrest in Rakhine State in relation to the Rohingya issue and asked about the remarks about the Rohingya made by the US embassy.
Protesters marched on the US Embassy in Yangon last month after it used the word Rohingya in a statement of condolence for the deaths of at least 20 people whose boat capsized on April 19 off the Rakhine coast.
The commander-in-chief said there were no Rohingyas in the country. There were only “Bengalis”, he said, referring to the term for people from Bangladesh. They were sent to Rakhine State after it was colonised by the British following the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824. “They are large in number and have been called ‘Bengalis’. They were called Rohingyas under former prime minister U Nu to win their votes. It was illegal. The term Rohingya does not exist and we will not accept it.”
Hardships at Rakhine refugee camps
Many of "Bengalis", internationally known as Rohingyas, are confined in refugee camps in Rakhine State. It was reported that two children from the Phar Kywe camp in Ponnagyun Township recently died of diarrhoea on May 12 and health-care provider Maung Thein was taken to hospital. The camp is running very low on water.
“We gave medicine to ease diarrhoea for these children and oral rehydrating sachets but they died the next day. Another child and a pregnant woman were taken to hospital. The water isn't suitable for use,” said vice-chairperson of Arakan National Party Aye Nu Sein.
International organisations have little presence in the area and there is limited health care.
There are about 280 people in upper Thinpone and around 200 in the camp.