Exploring the Root Causes of the Persecution Policy Against Rohingya People: A Study based on Three Constitutions of Burma/Myanmar

Main Article Content

Alvin Hoi-Chun Hung


This article presents and analyzes the complex case of the Rohingya, a large group that allegedly migrated from the Bengal area and has been deprived of citizenship through the sociopolitical measures of the Myanmar government, thereby making them de facto stateless people in Myanmar. Through archival research investigating extensive historical records in Myanmar with a particular focus on the three constitutions of the country, this study attempted to identify and analyse the sociopolitical reasons and underlying sociocultural rationale for why Rohingya migrants are deprived of citizenship in Myanmar, treated as illegal immigrants, and subjected to criminal prosecution and oppression under Myanmar’s military rule. While violence against the Rohingya people should be condemned, the Buddhist nationalism of the majority of Myanmar citizens and the concern about territorial sovereignty of the Myanmar government must be well understood before effective tutelary measures can be contemplated for the Rohingya people.

Article Details

How to Cite
Hung, A. H.-C. (2022). Exploring the Root Causes of the Persecution Policy Against Rohingya People: A Study based on Three Constitutions of Burma/Myanmar. Asian Journal of Law and Policy, 2(2), 75–97. https://doi.org/10.33093/ajlp.2022.6


A South, Ethnic Politics in Burma: States of Conflict (Routledge 2009)

AKM Ahsan Ullah, 'Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: Seeking Justice for the 'Stateless'' (2016) 32 Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 285

Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, The final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State: Towards a Peaceful, Fair and Prosperous Future for the People of Rakhine (Advisory Commission on Rakhine State 2017)

Afroza Anwary, 'Atrocities Against the Rohingya Community of Myanmar' (2018) 31 Indian Journal of Asian Affairs 91

Alison Bashford, 'Immigration Restriction: Rethinking Period and Place from Settler Colonies to Postcolonial Nations (2014) 9 Journal of Global History 26

Allison Joyce, 'Rohingya Cannot Become 'Forgotten Victims', Says UN Chief Urging World to Step up Support' UN New (11 July 2018)

Alvin Hoi-Chun Hung and Aung Myo Min, ''I'm afraid': The Cultural Challenges in Conducting Ethnographic Fieldwork and Interviews in Myanmar' (2020) 21 Qualitative Research Journal 113

Andrew RC Marshall, 'Special Report: Myanmar Gives Official Blessing to Anti-Muslim Monks' Reuters (27 June 2013)

Anthony Irwin, Burmese Outpost (Memoirs of a British Officer who fought in Arakan with the Arakanese V Forces during the Second World War (London: Collins 1945), 7, 16

Archana Parashar and Jobair Alam, 'The National Laws of Myanmar: Making of Statelessness for the Rohingya' (2019) 57 International Migration 94

Ashley South, Ethnic Politics in Burma: States of Conflict (Routledge 2009)

Ashraful Azad, Fareha Jasmin, 'Durable Solutions to The Protracted Refugee Situation: The Case of Rohingyas In Bangladesh' (2013) 1 Journal of Indian Research 25

Aung San Suu Kyi, Letters from Burma (Penguin Books 2010)

Aye Chan, 'The Development of a Muslim Enclave in Arakan (Rakhine) State of Burma (Myanmar)' (2005) 3 SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research 396

Benedict Rogers, Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads (rev edn, Rider 2015)

Burma Citizenship Law (Pyithu Hluttaw Law No 4 of 1982)

Carlos S Galache, Rohingya and National Identities in Burma (New Mandala 2014)

Census of India 1931, Vol XI: Burma, Part I: Report 1933

Champa Patel, 'Root Causes of Rohingya Crisis Must Not be Ignored' Chatham House (28 September 2017) <https://www.chathamhouse.org/2017/09/root-causes-rohingya-crisis-must-not-be-ignored>

Charles Tilly, 'Poverty and the Politics of Exclusion' in D Narayan and P Petesch (eds), Moving out of Poverty: Vol. 1. Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Mobility (World Bank 2007) 45

Christina Fink, 'Myanmar: Religious Minorities and Constitutional Questions' (2018) 49 Asian Affairs 259

Clive J Christie, A Modern History of Southeast Asia: Decolonization, Nationalism and Separatism (IB Tauris 1996)

Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2008)

Constitution of the Union of Burma (1974)

Court of Appeal of Rome, 23 (25) June 1965

David Steinberg 'Globalization, Dissent, and Orthodoxy: Burma/Myanmar and the Saffron Revolution', (2008) 9 Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 127

Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (adopted 24 October 1970 UNGA Res 2625 (XXV)

Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty (adopted 21 December 1965 UNGA Res 2131 (XX)

Department of Myanmar Language Commission, Myanmar-English Dictionary (Myanmar Ministry of Education 1993)

EUDO (European Union Democracy Observatories) Citizenship Observatory, Report on Citizenship Law: Bangladesh, (Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies in collaboration with Edinburgh University Law School 2016)

Elliot Brennan, 'The Rohingya And Islamic Extremism: A Convenient Myth.' (The Diplomat 2015)

Erin McKean (ed), The New Oxford American Dictionary, (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2005)

Giovanni Distefano, 'Theories on Territorial Sovereignty: A Reappraisal' (2010) 41 Journal of Shaia and Law 25

Haradhan Kumar Mohajan, 'History of Rakhine State and the Origin of the Rohingya Muslims' (2018) 2 IKAT: The Indonesian Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 19

Harrison Akins, 'The Two Faces of Democratization in Myanmar: A Case Study of the Rohingya and Burmese Nationalism' (2018) 38 Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 229

Hilary Silver, Gerry Rodgers and Charles Gore, Social Exclusion: Rhetoric, Reality, and Responses (International Institute for Labor Studies 1995).

Hilary Silver, 'Social Exclusion and Social Solidarity: Three Paradigms' (1994) 133 International Labour Review 531

Hilary Silver, 'Social Exclusion: Comparative Analysis of Europe and Middle East Youth' (2007) Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper 15

Hugh Chisholm (ed), 'Arakan' Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th edn, Cambridge University Press 1911) 315

I Ahmed, The Rohingyas: From Stateless to Refugee (University of Dhaka 2009)

International Crisis Group (ICG), 'Myanmar: The Military Regime's View of the World' ICG Asia Report, No 28 (ICG 2001)

Islamic Human Rights Commission Myanmar's Muslims, The Oppressed of the Oppressed (London 2005)

Jacques P Leider, 'Arakan Studies: Challenges and Contested Issues, Mapping a Field of Historical and Cultural Research', Arakan Historical Seminar (Kaladan Press 2007)

Jean-Francois Ravaud and Henri-Jacques Stiker, 'Inclusion/Exclusion: An Analysis of Historical and Cultural Meanings' in G Albrecht, K Seelman and M Bury (eds), Handbook of Disability (Sage 2001)

Jobair Alam, 'The Impacts of the Burmese Citizenship Law on the 'Rohingyas': A Critical Appraisal' (2015) 9 Society & Change 61

Ken MacLean, 'The Rohingya Crisis and the Practices of Erasure' (2019) 21 Journal of Genocide Research 83

Kenneth Panton, Historical Dictionary of the British Empire (Rowman & Littlefield Lanham 2015)

Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Addison-Wesley 1979) 96

Krishnadev Calamur, 'The Misunderstood Roots of Burma's Rohingya Crisis', (The Atlantic, 25 September 2017) <https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/09/rohingyas-burma/540513/>

Kyaw Thet (keaask), History of the Union of Burma (pnnytheaangcu mnmaaniungngN smiung:) (Inwa Taik 1962)

Kyaw Win, 'The Root Cause of Rohingya Persecution' New Mandala (15 September 2015) <https://www.newmandala.org/the-root-cause-of-rohingya-persecution/>

M Safi, 'Myanmar Treatment of Rohingya Looks Like Textbook Ethnic Cleansing, says UN' The Guardian (Geneva, 11 September 2017) <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/11/un-myanmars-treatment-of-rohingya-textbook-example-of-ethnic-cleansing>

MA Alam, Marginalization of the Rohingya in Arakan State of Western Burma (Kaladan Press 2011)

Maria Tamboukou, 'Archival Research: Unravelling Space/Time/Matter Entanglements and Fragments' (2014) 14 Qualitative Research 617

Martin Smith, 'The Muslim Rohingya of Burma' (Conference of Burma Centrum Nederland, Amsterdam, December 1995)

Matthew J Walton, 'Ethnicity, Conflict, and History in Burma: The Myths of Panglong' (2008) 48 Asian Survey 889

Maung Htin Aung, A History of Burma (Cambridge University Press 1967)

Md Mahbubul Haque, '1982 Citizenship Law in Burma and the Arbitrary Deprivation of Rohingyas' Nationality' (2014) 35 South Asian Journal of Policy and Governance 23

Michael W Charney 'Buddhism in Arakan: Theories and Historiography of the Religious Basis of Ethnonyms' (The Forgotten Kingdom of Arakan: A Public Seminar on the People of Present Day Arakan State of Myanmar, Bangkok, November 2005)

Michael W Charney, A History of Modern Burma (Cambridge University Press 2009)

Muang Zarni and A Cowley, 'The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar's Rohingya' (2014) 23 Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal 683

Mya Win, 'If We Appraise the Attempts Made to Sow Enmity against Myanmar Naing-ngan' Working Peoples' Daily (25 January 1992)

Myint Sein, Zin Win and Ei Wai, 'Authentications of Myanmar National Registration Card' (2013) 1(2) Indonesian Journal of Electrical Engineering and Informatics 53

Nehginpao Kipgen, 'The Rohingya Crisis: The Centrality of Identity and Citizenship' (2019) 3 Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 61

Nick Cheesman, 'How in Myanmar 'National Races' Came to Surpass Citizenship and Exclude Rohingya' (2017) 47 Journal of Contemporary Asia 461

Nurul Islam, 'Rohingya: A People under Endless Tyranny' (2021) 48 Asian Affairs: An American Review 14

Paolo Picone and B Conforti, La giurisprudenza italiana di diritto internazionale pubblico. Repertorio 1960-1987 (Naples, Jovene, 1988) 110

Peter A Coclanis, 'Terror in Burma: Buddhists vs Muslims' (2013) 176 World Affairs 25

Rachel Blomquist, 'Ethno-Demographic Dynamics of the Rohingya-Buddhist conflict' (2016) 1 Georgetown Journal of Asian Affairs 94

Raphael Boon, 'Nationalism and the Politicization of Identity: The Implications of Burmese Nationalism for the Rohingya' (Undergraduate thesis, Universiteit Leiden 2015)

Report on the Census of British Burma, Part I: The Enumeration and Compilation of Results 1881

Ridwanul Hoque, Report on Citizenship Law: Bangladesh (EUDO Citizenship Observatory Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies 2016)

S L Verma, The Law Relating to Foreigners and Citizenship in Burma (2nd edn, Mandalay 1961).

Shakila Devi Konsam, 'Myanmar under the Military Rule 1962-1988' (2014) 3 International Research Journal of Social Sciences 46

Sumit Sen, 'Stateless Refugee and the Right to Return: The Bihari Refugees of South Asia' (2000) 12 International Journal of Refugee Law 41

The Constitution of the Union of Burma, 24 September 1947

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (adopted 9 December 1948, entered into force 12 January 1951) UNGA Res 260 A (III)

Thomas Campbell Robertson, Political Incidents of the First Burmese War (Richard Bentley 1853) 252

Thomas Fuller and Patrick J Lyons, 'How Myanmar and Its Neighbors Are Responding to the Rohingya Crisis' The New York Times (14 May 2015)

Topich, The History of Myanmar (Greenwood 2013)

Trevor Gibson, Helen James and Lindsay Falvey (eds), Rohingyas: Insecurity and Citizenship in Myanmar (TSU Press 2016)

UN Human Rights Council, 'Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar' (12 September 2018) A/HRC/39/64

UNHCR 'Refugee Consultations: Bangladesh Report' (March 2007)

UNHCR, 'Myanmar Fact Sheet' (2016)

United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 2012)

Wai Nu, 'Why Rohingya? Equality and Identity in Myanmar' Myanmar Times (20 May 2016)

William Cornwell, History of Mrauk U (Lexington Books 2004)

William J Topich and Keith A Leitich, The History of Myanmar (Greenwood 2013) 17

'Address Root Causes of the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, Urges UN Chief' UN News (26 August 2020)

'Developments in Gambia's Case Against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice' (Human Rights Watch, 14 February 2022) <https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/02/14/developments-gambias-case-against-myanmar-international-court-justice>

'Myanmar Rohingya: What You Need to Know about the Crisis' BBC News (24 April 2018)

'Myanmar's Rohingya' The Economist (20 October 2012)

'New Identity Cards Deliver Recognition and Protection for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh' United Nations News (9 July 2018)

'Rohingya Emergency' (UNHCR Malaysia) <http://www.unhcr.org/rohingya-emergency.html>

'Stateless in Bangladesh and Pakistan' <https://web.archive.org/web/20070221171846/http:/www.statelesspeopleinbangladesh.net/home.php>

'The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census' (Myanmar Ministry of Immigration and Population, May 2015) 17

'The Rohingya And Islamic Extremism: A Convenient Myth' (The Diplomat 1992)

'UN Rights Chief Denounces Myanmar's Ethnic Cleansing' Aljazeera (Geneva, 12 Sep 2017) <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/myanmar-crisis-textbook-ethnic-cleansing-170911081528888.html>

'WHO Appeals for International Community Support; Warns of Grave Health Risks to Rohingya Refugees in Rainy Season' (ReliefWeb, 29 March 2018) <https://reliefweb.int/report/bangladesh/who-appeals-international-community-support-warns-grave-health-risks-rohingya>

'Who are the Rohingya?' Radio Free Asia (12 April 2010)

'Why the Constitution is So Important' (Parliament of South Africa)