A review of designations based on "Rohang" (or other words) which have 

                                                 been used to describe communities of Muslims in Arakan (Rakhine State)


                                                 "Various parts of the Hills in this neighbourhood are inhabited by Mugs from 

                                                 Rossawn, Rohhawn, Roang, Reng or Rung, for by all these names is Arakan 

                                                 called by the Bengalese."

                                                 Francis Buchanan in Southeast Bengal (1798) - William van Schendel 1992


                                                 "It is a fact that Arakan in Bangladesh is colloquially called Rohang, Roshang, 

                                                 and  Rowang with a little difference of accent, region wise."

                                                 A study on the issue of ethnicity in Arakan: Abu Anin aka Kyaw Min - 2009 

“Rohingya may be a term that had been used by both Hindu and Muslim Bengalis living in Rakhaing since the sixteenth century, either as resident traders in the capital or as war captives resettled in the Kaladan River Valley… 

Yunus explains that Roang/Rohang/Roshang is probably derived from the Arabic ‘Raham,’ or ‘blessings’, thus meaning ‘the land of God’s blessings’…" 

“Theories and Histiography of Ethnonyms in Rakhaing”: Michael Charney - 2005

From a lingustic point of view, the name “Rohingya” is derived from the Indianized form of Rakhine, i.e. Rakhanga. Following Dr Thibaut d’Hubert, “the rules of historical linguistics of the Indo-aryan languages allow to easily explain the phonological derivation ‘Rakhanga’ > ‘Rohingya’. The passage from [kh] to [h] is the rule in the passage from Sanskrit to Prakrit, which allows us to derive Rohingya from Rakhanga: Rakhanga > *Rahanga > (short “a” becomes “o” in bengali) *Rohangga > (introduction of [y]# to indicate the gemination which induces an alternative pronounciation “ –gya” and influences the vowel [a] which becomes [i]) thence ”Rohingya”. While the scientific demonstration may look a bit awkward to the lay reader, it accounts in fact for the change of each letter and sound. In association with the paradigm “Rakhanga>Rohingya”, one should refer as well to the name “Roshanga”, “widely spread since the beginning of Bengali literature in the Chittagong region, i.e. since the early 17th century till the end of the 18th c.” In sum, the word “Rohingya” does not refer to, or mean anything else, but “Rakhine” in the local Muslim language. 

"Rohingya: The Name, the Movement, The Quest for Identity": Jacques Leider - 2014

It has not yet been possible to establish the first known public reference to "Rohingya". This was at 

one time  thought to be an English-language version of the  Memorandum by Abdul Gaffar  (No. 4 below) which was said to have appeared in the Guardian Daily of 20 August 1951 (Footnote 5 of an article by  

Kei Nemoto)But  this newspaper  did not start publication until 1956 and in any case the word used 

was probably "Rwangya", not "Rohingya".



     Designation        Date             Source               Reference                 Comment


 1    Rooinga                  1799                F Buchanan            Asiatic Researches        Meaning “Natives of Arakan"                                                                                                                   

 2    Ruwangya              1948                Jamiat-ul-Ulema      Address to the P.M.       No meanings given 

 3    Rushangya                                                                                                  


 4    Rwangya                1948                Abdul Gaffar            Memorandum                "Rwangya" reprinted as "Rohingya"                                                                                                                             

 5    Rwangya                1949                James Bowker         Letter to UK                   “Arakanese as opposed to Chittagonian                                                                                                           Foreign Office               Muslims"


                                      1951                Bertie Pearn            Letter to G Luce             Meaning of Rwangya according to E Maung

                                      1952                Bertie Pearn            F.O. Memorandum         7 references to Rwangya     

 6    Ruhangya               1954                P.M. U Nu                  Radio Broadcast            Lesson on Religion

 7    Rowengya              1959                Ba Tha                    Guardian Magazine       Mainly about the Kaman


 8    Roewengya            1960                Ba Tha                    Guardian Magazine       Historical

 9    Roewenhnya

 10   Rohengya             1961                 Seit Twe Maung      Tanzaung Magazine      Critique

 11   Rohingya 

 12   Rohinja                 1961                 VCDS Aung Gyi      Guardian Daily               Surrender of Mujahids       

 13   Royankya             1963                 Tha Htu                   Guardian Magazine       Critique

 14   Royangya


 15   Rohingya              1963                 Ba Tha                    Short History                  Translation from the Burmese

                                     1964                 Ba Tha                    Guardian Magazine        Extract from "The Loyal Rohingyas"

                                     1965                 Ba Tha                    Guardian Magazine        "Coming of Islam to Arakan"

                                     1966                 Ba Tha                    Islamic Review               "Muslims in Arakan"

 16  Rwahaunggakyar                          Khin Maung Saw     Humboldt University       Derived from Roewenhnya (9) 

 17  Rowanhnya                                   Khin Maung Saw                                            "Fairy tale"

 18  Rahingya                                       Khin Maung Saw                                            "Descendants of Rahin"

 19  Roanganegya                                Khin Maung Saw                                            "Descendants of Roang (Sultanate)"

 20  Ronja                                             Khin Maung Saw                                            Plea for mercy

 21  Roang Pree                                   Khin Maung Saw                                            Roangian pronounced "Rohingya"


Military and Political Organisations - for details see Wikipedia

(Note: these organisations have been verified independently)

 Rohingya Independence Front 1964

 Rohingya Independence Army 1969

 Rohingya Liberation Party 1972

 Rohingya Liberation Army 1972 

 Rohingya Patriotic Front 1973

 Rohingya Solidarity Organisation 1982

 Arakan Rohingya Independence Front 1986

 Arakan Rohingya National Organisation 1988

 Rohingya National Army 1988

 Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Harakah al-Yaqin) 2013

Social, Cultural and Youth Organisations - details provided  in an article by  Aman Ullah in 2016

(Note: there is no reason to doubt the existence of these organisations, but there is no confirmation that the designation used at their inception was in fact "Rohingya" and not a related designation like "Ruhangya". For example, "The Guardian" of 3 August 1960 reported on a meeting organised by the "Ruhangya Youth League" which may well have been the same organisation as the "Rohingya Youth Organization"- see below. The article is headlined "Ruhangyas against Arakan Statehood".)

United Rohingya Organization 1956

Rohingya Youth Organization 1959

Rohingya Students Organization 1960

Rohingya Labour Organization 1960

Rangoon University Rohingya Students Association 1960




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