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The Muslim massacre of 1942

By AFK Jilani

When British withdrew, the administration of Arakan division was entrusted to a Magh Buddhist extremist, U Kyaw Khine, with the power of commissioner of Arakan division. Many British soldiers left leaving behind a large number of arms, which easily reached the hand of Maghs.

            The barbaric Muslim massacre started on 28th March 1942 at the order of Thakin leaders of Arakan. The Magh fell upon the innocent Muslims of Chanbilli village of Minbya Township. The carnage was unbelievable and hundreds of Muslims including children and women met their fatal end. Many Muslims jumped into the river and hid in the forest. People in water were shot dead. With their long swords the Maghs butchered the half-dead men, women and children. Those still alive in the carnage were stabbed with the pointed spears and cut them into pieces. Rohingya girls and women after having been raped were murdered and the children were mercilessly slaughtered by throwing them upward and putting the sharp side of the long-dahs or swords under them. The breasts of the women were peeled.

            The same event of the tragic end of Shah Shuja and his followers in 1662  was just repeated once more in 1942. The Maghs of the neighbourhood carried away their cattle, rice, paddy and even clothes. The Thakin leaders took costly things like gold and silver and other booties were given to savage plunderers. The waters of the historic Lemro River had once more turned red with the blood of Muslims.

            The next day on 29th March the armed Maghs attacked Lombaissor. The Rohingya resisted but were defeated and many Muslims were massacred. Like the daughter of Sultan Shuja many women in order to save their modesty threw themselves into the river. Some escaping group of 15000 Muslims were intercepted at Taungyi Nyo by the Maghs and were killed after looting their belongings. Women were killed after being raped for some days. Also, 10,000 men, women and children were killed at Apawkwa pass in the same way as Taungyi Nyo.

            After destroying Chanbilli and Lambaissor in Minbya Township the Thakin attacked Raichaung and Pankha villages of Myebon Township on 1st April 1942. Almost all of 15,000 Muslims of these two villages were massacred.

            Attempts were made to carry out massacre at Kyauknimaw of Ramree Township, but they were saved in a miraculous way. The Muslims of Kyaukpyu were given protection by British forces. On 8th April 1942 the Magh carried out the massacre at the villages of Kyauktaw, Mrohaung, Pauktaw and Rathidaung.

            Abedin the richest man of Afouk (Apawkwa) used to say that “the Maghs are like dogs, if you throw bones at the dogs they are silent. Similarly if you give money to the Maghs they would not harm you.” But at the last moment his wealth could not save him. Although he narrowly escaped the massacre he had to breathe his last in refugee camps at Rangpur, needy and broken heart. It is one of the thousands of examples.

            At the end of April the onslaught swept over the township of Rathidaung and Buthidaung. The villages up to Khwachoung in the township of Buthidaung were destroyed and burnt down. Taung Bazar, north of Buthidaung and its surrounding villages also came under Magh attack.

            Three fourths of the Muslims of Rathidaung Township were massacred. The rest were lucky enough to reach Akyab. The Muslims of Akyab had the opportunity of acquiring some arms and training to defend themselves. Both offensive and defensive preparations of the Muslims in Akyab under the leadership of Sultan Mahmud, Tambi Maracan and others frightened the Maghs.

            The result of the Muslim massacre of 1942 is that, 307 Muslim villages had disappeared from the soil of Arakan. More than 100,000 Muslims were massacred and 80,000 fled to Chittagong and Rangpur Refugee camps. The Muslim majority area of the east of Kaladan River had turned into a Muslim minority area. But the loss in terms of human civilisation and moral value is much greater. The 1942 massacre gave the scar mark of bitterness in the minds of the two-sister people against one another who, otherwise, peacefully co-existed in Arakan since 1200 years back.


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Last updated: Friday, May 17, 2002