New Delhi (ABC Live); Rohingya :There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis, the United Nations in 2013 stated that Rohingya as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Besides locals converting to Islam, Arab merchants married local women and later settled in Arakan. As a result of intermarriage and conversion, the Muslim population in Arakan grew.Modern day Rohingya believe they descended from these early Muslim communities.
Than Arakan was a key center of maritime trade and cultural exchange between Burma and the outside world, since the time of the Indian Mauryan Empire. Arab merchants had been in contact with Arakan since the third century, using the Bay of Bengal to reach Arakan. Starting in the 8th century, Arab merchants began conducting missionary activities, and many locals converted to Islam. Some researchers have speculated that Muslims used trade routes in the region to travel to India and China. A southern branch of the Silk Road connected India, Burma and China since the neolithic period. Arab traders are recorded in the coastal areas of southeast Bengal, bordering Arakan, since the 9th century.The Rohingya population trace their history to this period.
During the Pakistan Movement in the 1940s led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Rohingya Muslims in than western Burma now Myanmar organized a separatist movement to merge the region into East Pakistan.
Before the independence of Myanmar in January 1948, Muslim leaders from Arakan addressed themselves to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and asked his assistance in incorporating the Mayu region to Pakistan considering their religious affinity and geographical proximity with East Pakistan.
The North Arakan Muslim League was founded in Akyab (modern Sittwe) two months later. The proposal never materialized since it was reportedly turned down by Jinnah, saying that he was not in a position to interfere into Myanmar matters.
Source : Wikipedia