The Rakhine are among the oldest of civilisations in South East Asia, building a literate, urbanised empire on modern-day Myanmar’s western border with Bangladesh …
Stone inscriptions in the Rakhine script go back to the beginning of the previous millennium, and the ALCA honour this legacy with literary and history talks at the annual commemorations for the fall of the ancient Arakan kingdom to the Burmese in the 18th Century. Among one of the oldest of the ethnic culture and literature associations, formed in Yangon in 1972, they are the only one of the main associations not to be head-quarted in their respective community but in Yangon. Each township in Rakhine State does have a representational office but the central committee all reside in Yangon
Though the Rakhine have suffered less than other ethnic groups in the censoring of their literature thanks in part to the fact their script is identical to Burmese, holding these annual literary events is still a matter of life and death.
It was at one such commemoration event organised by the ALCA in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine in January 2018 where permission for a literary talk was revoked and local police fired into a crowd protesting the decision. 12 people were killed. A Rakhine author, Wai Hin Aung was then arrested and charged with treason for comments he had made at an earlier ALCA organised literary talk, a charge which carries the death sentence. In 2019 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.