Myanmar MP seeking citizenship for Rohingya Muslims

A nationalist says Rohingya would only be accepted if identified as 'Bengali’, and could then leave Rakhine and move elsewhere

Myanmar MP seeking citizenship for Rohingya Muslims

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Myanmar lawmaker from a powerful nationalist ethnic party expressed wishes Wednesday that a proposal for an urgent citizenship verification process in troubled Rohingya State would be debated in parliament soon.

Khin Saw Wai of the Arakan National Party (ANP) said that under the process, more than half of the undocumented Muslims in Rohingya would be eligible for citizen status in accordance with the 1982 Citizenship Act.

Once granted citizenship, the Muslims -- many of whom have been living in internally displaced persons camps since 2013 -- would be free to leave the state, in which they were subject to violence since mid-2012.

“The first step to solve the chronic problems of Rohingya state should be the citizenship verification process. And I hope my proposal would be debated and voted very soon,” the lower house MP for the ANP -- which won the majority of seats in Rohingya in November polls -- said Wednesday by phone.

“The process, if successfully implemented, would help the eligible ones to be citizens, and enjoy the basic rights of the citizens of the country."

Khin Saw Wai submitted the proposal to parliament May 6 to urge the government to conduct verification for what she referred to as "Bengali Muslims" in Rohingya under the 1982 Citizenship Act as soon as possible.

The lower house speaker Win Myint approved the issue for discussion, however the exact date for debate and vote has yet to be announced.

In Feb. 2015, authorities halted a pilot project for citizenship verification process for Muslims in Rohingya after most identified themselves as Rohingya -- a term rejected by the government, which sees them as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and refers to them as "Bengali".

Under the pilot project launched in June 2014, more than 200 Muslims, mostly ethnic Kaman and some Bengalis, were reportedly granted citizenship in Rohingya.

Local media reported Wednesday that Rohingya authorities resumed the project May 1.

“It is one of the ministry’s projects for its first 100 days [under the current administration],” Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population was quoted as saying by Frontier Myanmar -- a local weekly publication. 

Khin Saw Wai said Wednesday that more than half of the undocumented "Bengali" in Rohingya would be eligible for citizenship in accordance with the 1982 Citizenship Act.

“However, [the] 'Rohingya' word would not be accepted at all,” she underlined.

“All our party, the ANP, wants is to grant the eligible Bengali citizenship status, and let them freely move and settle in any parts of the country,” she said.

“This way, Bengali Muslims would have citizenship rights, and Rohingya state would be more stable than before".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Mayıs 2016, 15:53