Arakan

The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called Rakhaing-pray by its own people, Rakhaing-thar (Arakanese) who were titled this name in honour of preservation on their national heritage and ethics or morality.

Citizenship for Rohingya impractical and impossible

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Monday, May 26, 2014

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Local residents march to support the 1982 Citizenship Law in Sittwe, Rakhine State (Photo - Than Hlaing/EMG)

The government has responded to the speech of Vijay Nambiar, UN Secretary General's Special Advisor to Myanmar requesting citizenship rights be granted to Rohingya muslims in Myanmar saying such suggestions were impractical and impossible.

Vijay Nambiar recently said at the International Peace Institute of the United States of America: “The country's Rohingya Muslims must have a path to citizenship, otherwise their security will remain under threat,” and “if such a step were not taken, it will affect the international reputation of the country.”

The government pointed out that Vijay Nambiar’s suggestion was only instigating the conflicts between two communities after tensions had almost returned to normal. 

Nambiar said the status of Rakhine's Muslim population remains unaddressed despite many promises by the authorities for early action to provide temporary identity certificates, register new births, and allow the Rohingyas to move freely.

"The utmost necessity now for the Muslim community in Rakhine," he said, is to have their status verified and regularised, and to obtain a National Registration Card from the government and then citizenship which would enable the Rohingyas to travel throughout the country and get passports to go abroad.

"I think that is a better way towards realising immediate objectives, and then gradually move towards using that status to establish a political constituency, and that's what would happen in any democratic process," he said.

Vijay Nambiar added that top priority for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was to get citizenship. 

The government, ethnic Rakhine and some politicians responded that only those who are certified under the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law should enjoy Myanmar citizenship. Those who are not in line with the law could not enjoy that right. Vijay Nambiar’s demand was not practical and possible. Moreover, he was accused of interfering in internal affairs of Myanmar.

Regarding the Bengalis in Rakhine State, a high ranking official from the President’s Office said that those who were in conformity with the 1982 citizenship law could enjoy citizenship. If not, the rights to citizenship could not be achieved. No one can put pressure on the rights of a nation or tribe. The government will not accept the special envoy’s pressure on citizenship right to Rohingya in Myanmar. 

A senior official from the President Office said that there are (3) points. No-1 is Bengali. There is no Rohingya or subtribes in Myanma. The government and the public have the same opinion about that. We are not turning a blind eye to their Right to Citizenship. The no-2 point is that we will give them citizenship according to 1982 citizenship Law. The reason why the matter of bestowing citizen has partly connected to a Nation’s sovereignty. It has legally established. When giving to a part of sovereignty, we will give to those who have met the standard of 1982 Law. The no-3 point is that as all of you have known, in the latest census, some have written as Rohingya. The word Rohingya has never existed in Myanmar. What I mean is that, in getting a citizenship, pressure should never be given. The government couldn’t give citizenship as they demanded. So everyone must be citizen according to Law. 

He added that whenever and wherever we discussed this matter, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon or others in U.S. and Europe, the matter turned out the same. This is the government’s stance. It is not practical to give citizenship to all Bengalis in Rakhine State. Stability in the country, stability in socio-economic lives of the people, peaceful settlement for the problems is more important.

If one looks at the history of ethnics nationals of Myanmar, it has long history dating back to thousands of years. If one look at the history of Myanmar before and after it gained independence, history of Rakhine and south East Asia history, it is true that there was no race named Rohingya according to leader of Arakan National League for Democracy Aye Thar Aung.

“Our government has already said that there is no such race in Myanmar. In Myanmar, there are 135 national races but their race ( Rohingya) is not included. So, there is no race by the name of Rohingya in Myanmar. It is not natural to ask a race to become a citizen. It shouldn’t be,” said Aye Thar Aung.
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Local residents march to support the 1982 Citizenship Law in Sittwe, Rakhine State (Photo - Than Hlaing/EMG)

Former political prisoner Myint Aung said: “We can’t accept and strongly condemn the use of “Rohingya” by Mr. Nambiar. Using such word is threatening the current condition in which both communities are started to settle. Besides, there is no such ethnic as Rohingya in our ethnic groups. We assume the term “Rohingya” as a danger word for our country’s tranquility. We agree and support the 1982 citizenship law. We have to consider our country’s tranquility, economy and culture regarding to give the citizenship. The one who wants to be a citizen of Myanmar must be legally accepted in accord with the 1982 citizenship law.”

Min Zayya from the 88 Peace and Open Society expressed that Mr. Nambiar’s comment is encroaching the sovereignty of Myanmar. He said: “I concern if such comment said by the special advisor of the United Nations like Mr. Nambiar lead to inciting to bigger conflicts happened in Rakhine State.”

He continued “Suggesting or criticising the quality of being nationality of Myanmar by an organisation from the abroad, or a person live in abroad, or the foreign government is directly encroaching the sovereignty of Myanmar since being the nationality is a kind of sovereignty. It is interfering with our sovereignty. We assume that Mr. Nambiar’s remark on being nationality of Myanmar is directly interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar. We can’t accept the term “Rohingya” as the ethnic.”

The Yangon region Ethnic Rakhine Affairs Minister Zaw Aye Maung said: “What could he do since the President Thein Sein said there is no Rohingya? His remark is totally ineffective. He has no right to interfere the Myanmar’s internal affair.”

The Chairman of Arakan League for Democracy Aye Thar Aung said that there are non-ethnic like Chinese, Indian or Bengalis who live in the country holding the citizenship card in accord with the law while some are illegally holding the nationality card. What is more, there might be Bengalis entering into Myanmar who are valid to be the Myanmar citizens in line with the 1982 law. Those kind of Bengalis can apply for the citizenship is rational. Also illegal immigrants entering into Myanmar in various illegal ways have to be taken action in accord with the law. 

The Director from the Ministry of Immigration and Population Myint Kyaing said that the state government has already announced the stance regarding with Bengali issue. Bengalis will be the Myanmar citizen if they are legally valid with the citizenship law. If they don’t valid, they won’t be the citizens. 

He continued “Foreigners who is legally accepted with the nationality law of Myanmar will be the Myanmar citizens. Therefore we won’t consider any pressures given by the international community concerning with the Bengalis issue to be the citizenship. We will take action in accord with the 1982 citizenship law, which still exists in the country.”

"Anyone with a full qualification to become a citizen has the right to citizenship. We need to stand strongly so that those with full qualifications for citizenship should be protected by the law if they have not been granted citizenship while unqualified people should not be granted citizenship," said Min Zayya.

"It is included in our 1947 Constitution. We have to examine whether people are from ethnics races or citizens in accordance with this law," said high court lawyer Kyaw Hoe. "This is a broad issue. We need to examine both the evidence from their side and our side. If it is one-sided, the other side will not accept it so we need to hold a meeting where both sides will present their evidence and decide."

"We need to abide by the existing laws for the citizenship issue. If the law is ineffective, it needs to be amended," he added.

According to the 1982 Citizenship Law, the following persons born in or outside the State are also citizens: (a) persons born of parents, both of whom are citizens; (b) persons born of parents, one of whom is a citizen and the other an associate citizen; (c) persons born of parents, one of whom and the other a naturalized citizen; (d) persons born of parents one of whom is (i) a citizen; or (ii) an associate citizen; or (iii) a naturalized citizen; and the other is born of parents, both of whom are associate citizens; (e) persons born of parents, one of whom is (i) a citizen; or (ii) an associate citizen; or (iii) a naturalized citizen; and the other is born of parents, both of whom are naturalized citizens; (f) persons born of parents one of whom is (i) a citizen; or (ii) an associate citizen; or (iii) a naturalized citizen; and the other is born of parents, one of whom is an associate citizen and the other a naturalized citizen.

For many years, illegal immigrants from Bangladesh have entered Rakhine State and weaknesses of the government have led to racial and religious conflicts. During the transparent era, the public started learning about the difficulties the ethnic Rakhine people have been facing for many years due to lack of rule of law, according to Min Zayya.

A senior official from the President's Office called for the international community including the United Nations to find out the truth about the Bengali issue in Myanmar and asked for them to help urge the organisations that have been protesting against the 1982 Citizenship Law to cooperate with the government in order for everyone to participate peacefully in carrying out citizenship scrutiny activities in accordance with the 1982 Citizenship Law.

"Bad inheritances have been handed down from the time when the country did not have transparency and was ruled by incompetent government. I believe that these bad inheritances can all be solved completely if we try to solve them democratically, transparently, and with rule of law. Another thing is that this issue is really an internal affair. No country has the right to interfere," said Min Zayya.

____ http://elevenmyanmar.com/

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