Even those whose parents and grandparents lived in Myanmar have been given a residency permit only. They have poor access to local services and cannot get Government/civil service jobs or train as doctors or lawyers. They are not allowed free movement within Myanmar and this prevents farmers from getting a good price for their produce.Since 1982, the Rohingya people of Myanmar’s Rakhine state have been effectively stateless and are not permitted the rights of citizens.
“It is very challenging at the moment because we don’t have enough to eat” said one 25-year-old Rohingya man. “We would be better in jail or prison because at least then we would have food regularly. It is like we live in a prison anyway.”
We would be better in jail or prison because at least then we would have food regularly.
The discrimination is not only the product of legislation and state practice but sadly is supported by the vast majority of ethnic Burmese. Even the use of the term ’Rohingya’ is controversial within the country; the vast majority of the population misleadingly refer to the Rohingya as ‘Bengali’. The discrimination also has a religious dimension as Rohingya are almost all Muslim, and Buddhist nationalist movements in particular have incited violence and discrimination.
The recent mass exodus came about after a militant Rohingya group in Rakhine State organised attacks on the Myanmar military in August 2017. The response was brutal with whole villages burnt to the ground either by Myanmar military or Burmese vigilante groups.
The military has been accused of using disproportionate force in its operations amounting to ethnic cleansing, including allegations of mass rape, extrajudicial killing and torture. The government has not allowed the UN or others access to the area, with the exception of limited access for the Red Cross.
Only in the last few days has the Government finally admitted one instance of extrajudicial killing of Rohingya’s at the hands of the military. However there are allegations supported by the accounts of many refugees that such killings have been widespread.
In search of a solution
In August 2017 an Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, recommended that citizenship laws be amended so that rights to citizenship do not depend on ethnicity. If the Rohingya are to return to Myanmar they will need a secure status and protection including.
Please call on the Government of Myanmar to implement in full the recommendations of the Annan Commission on Rakhine State, including the issuing of full citizenship rights to all people living Myanmar, including the Rohingya who are recent refugees in camps in Bangladesh.
Write to: –
Ambassador of Myanmar
His Excellency, U Kyaw Zwar Minn
Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
19A Charles Street