During World War II, Japanese forces invaded Burma, then under British colonial rule. The British forces retreated and in the power vacuum left behind, considerable inter communal violence erupted between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya villagers. The British armed Rohingyas in northern Arakan to create a buffer zone from Japanese invasion when they retreated.
The period also witnessed violence between groups loyal to the British and Burmese nationalists.
Inter communal violence
Aye Chan, a historian at the Kanda University, has written that as a consequence of acquiring arms from the British during World War II, Rohingyas tried to destroy the Arakanese villages instead of resisting the Japanese.
On 28 March 1942, around 5,000 Muslims in Minbya and Mrohaung Townships were killed by Rakhine nationalists and Karenni. Rohingya Muslims from Northern Rakhine State killed around 20,000 Arakanese, including the Deputy Commissioner U Oo Kyaw Khaing, who was killed while trying to settle the dispute.
Persecution by the Japanese forces
The Japanese committed countless acts of rape, murder and torture against thousands of Rohingya. In this period, around 22,000 Rohingya are believed to have crossed the border into Bengal, then part of British India, to escape the violence.
Defeated, 40,000 Rohingya eventually fled to Chittagong after repeated massacres by the Burmese and Japanese forces.
- Field-Marshal Viscount William Slim (2009). Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942–1945. London: Pan. ISBN 0330509977.
- Chan (Kanda University of International Studies), Aye (Autumn 2005). "The Development of a Muslim Enclave in Arakan (Rakhine) State of Burma (Myanmar)". pp. 396–420. ISSN 1479-8484. http://www.soas.ac.uk/sbbr/editions/file64388.pdf. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- Kyaw Zan Tha, MA (July 2008). "Background of Rohingya Problem". pp. 1.
- Kurt Jonassohn (1999). Genocide and gross human rights violations: in comparative perspective. Transaction Publishers. p. 263. ISBN 0765804174. http://books.google.com/books?id=jIxCUXI38zcC&pg=PA263&dq=rohingya+japanese&hl=en&ei=kASlTamKAdGi0gHRyaHlCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=rohingya%20japanese&f=false. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- Howard Adelman (2008). Protracted displacement in Asia: no place to call home. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. p. 86. ISBN 0754672387. http://books.google.com/books?id=oyzfkz1gcVsC&pg=PA86&dq=rohingya+japanese&hl=en&ei=kASlTamKAdGi0gHRyaHlCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=rohingya%20japanese&f=false. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- Human Rights Watch (Organization) (2000). Burma/Bangladesh: Burmese refugees in Bangladesh: still no durable solution. Human Rights Watch. p. 6. http://books.google.com/books?id=gIOFAAAAMAAJ&q=Independence,+and+Rohingya+Flight+In+1942,+Japanese+forces+invaded+Burma+and+during+the+British+retreat+communal++22000+refugees&dq=Independence,+and+Rohingya+Flight+In+1942,+Japanese+forces+invaded+Burma+and+during+the+British+retreat+communal++22000+refugees&hl=en&ei=XCClTZbrE4TUgQfZqoSdCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- Asian profile, Volume 21. Asian Research Service. 1993. p. 312. http://books.google.com/books?id=tdMtAQAAIAAJ&q=The+Burmans,+in+collaboration+with+the+Japanese,+massacred+many+Rohingyas+and+kicked+out+40000+refugees+to+Chittagong.11+In+the+post-colonial+period,+in+between+l959+and+l978,+there+were+multiple+major+Burmese+military+operations&dq=The+Burmans,+in+collaboration+with+the+Japanese,+massacred+many+Rohingyas+and+kicked+out+40000+refugees+to+Chittagong.11+In+the+post-colonial+period,+in+between+l959+and+l978,+there+were+multiple+major+Burmese+military+operations&hl=en&ei=wASlTYSFE4630QG25PWGCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- History of the Rohingya People at Human Rights Watch
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