It is a sentiment widely shared throughout Myanmar, but its based on a false history that nationalists have propagated over decades: that the Rohingya, whom they call Bengalis, arrived during the British colonial period or afterwards. Myanmars Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture even announced in mid-December that it would publish a treatise showing that the Rohingya are not from Myanmar. The ancient ancestry of the Rakhine and Rohingya people is the subject of much debate, but historians say that both identities emerged from the kingdom of Arakan, which encompassed much of todays Rakhine State, as well as areas that are now in Bangladesh. The identity of each is based to great extent on religion, and there is ample evidence of both a Buddhist and Muslim presence in the kingdom. Archeologists have unearthed coins from the 15th century that show Arakanese rulers using Islamic titles. But Michael Charney, a historian at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, argues that there were relatively few Muslims residing in Arakan until slave raids in the 17th century greatly boosted the population. Although there is very little evidence of a rural Muslim community in Arakan prior to the 1570s, they clearly made up a substantial proportion of the population in the 1770s, prior to Burman rule, he writes . The Burmans, who comprise modern Myanmars most populous and politically-powerful ethnic group, conquered Arakan in 1784. But Burma ruled for only 40 years before the British took it over, after which there was further migration into the region from what is now Bangladesh. A group of Rohingya who fled Myanmar have taken refuge in the village of Hazi Para Citizenship Myanmar insists that, in order to receive citizenship, Rohingya Muslims must provide evidence that their families were living in Rakhine State before the British conquest in 1824.

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