There are many Rohingya families in Myanmar that contain even dozens of members. It is not a choice, but a part of the ethnic cleansing plan. On the other hand the government use this sizableness to accuse this minority of backwardness, while the local media use it to defame them with high birth rate and the monks to mock at the Muslims with sexuality.
Though Burmese people and media ignore the fact behind this situation, many outsiders may wonder to see such a big family, amid Burmese media’s different portrayal regarding the issue in support of government genocidal plan.
The family in the photo with family ID No. 199 consisting of 25 members belongs to a man named Mohammad Nazi, son of Aman Bokshu from Tulatoli village of Northern Maungdaw. According to survivors from the family, the vast majority of the family members were burnt alive on August 30, 2017 by military and Border Guard Police in collaboration with other non-Rohingya militias, who attacked the village on the same day.
The group photo was taken on February 2, 2012 by the local immigration. There might be more members in this family until 2017.
In fact, all the members are not issues of two parents, instead this kind of families contain several couples usually belonging to the immediate sons of family head and sometimes to the married daughters who preferred to stay joining with their own parental family, not the husband’s parents. In addition, this kind of families adopts orphan grandchildren, children of divorcee or widow daughters.
The secret of this situation lies under the Na Sa Ka operation started since 1992. According to Na Sa Ka program, no young couple is allowed to separate from the main family no matter how big the family may be. Since 1992 no family list has been divided into nuclear families.
Simultaneously, no residential structure is allowed to be built anew nor the old ones to be repaired, but all the family members must live in one household and under one roof that is of nipa palm leaves and replaceable yearly.
Under this circumstances, almost every Rohingya family/family list is extended including the first parents, their children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren, daughters-in-law, grand-daughters-in-law, etc. Every new residential or religious structure or part of it is considered illegal if it is built after 1992 in Northern Arakan state, though they are not long-lasting as made of woods, bamboos and leaves.
Actually this situation is a part of ethnic cleansing plan implemented by Na Sa Ka as a newer phase in 1992. This Na Sa Ka regional law intends to depopulate Rohingya by imposing some systematic restrictions on family, marriage, movement, residence, rural and civil plans, farming, agriculture, and trade.
Marriage under Na Sa Ka law was one of the most toughest issues faced by Rohingya. Normally the marriage application has a long procedure that takes three to four years in addition to the huge amount of bribe the authorities demand. Not only the rules and regulation the applicants have to follow, but also they must meet harsh terms and conditions to be permitted.
For the married couples, the new birth and death registration process is also not less than a headache.
For example, if the head in this family has one brother, two sons and one daughter, supposedly who are married and have four children each, the total members may easily amount to 25. Is it wonder?
But the problem is with Burmese media including BBC Burmese, VOA Burmese that always back government ethnic cleansing plan and stand with the evil-minded Wirathu hand in hand to portray Muslim’s reputation especially Rohingya.
The Burmese media, the government and the extremist monks interpret this situation with high birth rate, Muslim sexuality, backwardness of the Muslim society, and its uncivilizedness.
By seeing this kind of photos, the media, nationalist monks and extremist lay people simply judge that they are all immediate offspring of two parents.
The writer’s family is another example of extended families.
This is the situation I live in and so does my people!