Forgotten Voices: Addressing Challenges Faced by the Double Minority Groups in Arakan

Executive Summary

  • Arakan, known as Rakhine state, is home to multiple ethnic and religious groups. In addition to the two dominant groups, Rakhine and Rohingya, eight other ethnic and religious groups—Chin, Daingnet, Hindus, Kaman, Khumei, Maramagyi, Mro, and Thet—coexist within the region. This report collectively refers to them as ‘Double Minority Groups’ (DMGs).

  • While these eight groups can be categorized under the DMGs, there are significant differences among them. These differences include political and legal representation, socio- political mobilization, economic wealth, population size, demography, and accessibility and affordability to public services in the areas.

  • Apart from the Chin ethnic group, all other communities among the DMGs lack effective and meaningful political platform to present their voices and needs. The lack of political representation of the DMGs also partly comes from the existing pro-majoritarian political system and institutions established in the political environment of Arakan and Myanmar.

  • The emergence of communal and armed violence within Arakan in recent decades, starting from 2012, has had visible impacts on the DMG population. However, their suffering has been disproportionately addressed by both the government and non-governmental organizations. Additionally, their voices are often ignored and marginalized.

  • The DMGs have been negatively affected by violent incidents based on their locations and social-cultural characteristics and practices. In all three types of violent junctures, impacts were different. During the ‘2012 communal violence,’ DMGs such as Hindus, Kaman, and Maramagyi were mainly affected. When the armed conflict broke out in 2016 and 2017 between the Myanmar military and ARSA, other DMGs like Mro, Thet, and Daingnet living in the northern parts of the state were harmed due to their locations. The intensive armed conflicts between the Myanmar military and AA from 2018 to 2020 also negatively impacted Khamei, Chins, and Mro ethnic groups within the DMGs.

  • The treatment of the government authorities toward the conflict affected DMGs in each juncture is also different. In the case of 2012 communal violence, non-Buddhist DMGs experienced the lack of appropriate protection by the authorities whereas the situation was slightly different in 2016-17 violence issue where the government efforted to rescue the DMGs in Maungdaw and Buthidaung areas. However, during the armed conflicts from 2018- 2020, it is found that the DMGs also suffered from the absence of effective government protection.

  • Due to various reasons such as a lack of communication, accessibility, and adaptability, the DMGs are often ignored in assistance programs initiated by the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) community. Moreover, the failure to consider the DMGs, especially the smaller and weaker ones, as the key to eradicating poverty, promoting rural development and an inclusive society, and improving human rights in the region is the key challenge for the better future of the DMGs in Arakan.

  • (Keywords: minority, double minority, discriminations, marginalization, violence, NGOs)

    Photo: Kyaw Lin Htoo/Myanmar Now

    Introduction: Why Disaster Management Becomes National security?

    Rakhine State, historically known as Arakan, is situated on the eastern bank of the Bay of Bengal, separated by the Arakan Roma Mountain ranges from other parts of Myanmar. Within Myanmar, it shares borders with Chin State to the north, and the Magway, Bago, and Irrawaddy Regions to the east. In the northwest, it has an international border with the Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts of Bangladesh. While the term “Rakhine” formally refers to a group of mainly Buddhist Rakhine-speaking majority population in the state, there are also several non- Rakhine and non-Buddhist people in the region. Sittwe serves as the capital city of Rakhine State, and the total estimated population in the state ranges between 3 to 4 million people.

    Nestled along the western edge of Myanmar, Rakhine State embodies a tapestry of cultural diversity and historical resonance. However, beneath its surface lies a complex narrative of economic underdevelopment, positioning it among the most marginalized regions in the country. Within this dynamic, the experiences of double minority groups emerge as a poignant and pressing concern. These communities, representing a mixture of ethnicities, grapple with a unique set of challenges stemming from their minority status within the complicated socio-political situations of Myanmar.

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    The CAS is an independent, non-partisan and research-oriented group conducting research and analyzing issues related to Arakan/Rakhine affairs.

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