By Rohang Maung & Rohingya Eye
Arakan State, (Rohingya Vision) — Myanmar’s government are said to have ben coaxing the Rohingyas to accept the ‘Identity Cards for National Verification’ known as Green Cards blatantly neglecting their desperate plight post the recent cyclone.
Hundreds of people were killed, thousands of homes were destroyed, and agricultural lands were left devastated in Arakan (now Rakhine) state by the recent storm and flooding. The people are facing starvation and miseries post the natural disaster. The Rohingyas claim that they have hardly received any aids from the government and it (the government) provides reliefs only to the Buddhist Rakhines.
Amidst that, Myanmar’s authorities are visiting different parts of the state and threatening and coaxing the people severely to accept the Green Cards (not to be mistaken to be equivalent with the US’ Green Card) instead of providing reliefs and aids to them. However, the Rohingyas refuse to accept the cards because they are temporary cards with two years stay permit in the country normally issued to the foreigners that want to apply for the citizenship consideration.
A joint group of authorities such as officials from Immigration, General Township Administration, Township Police, Education Ministry and Health Department visited the IDP (internally displaced people) IDP Camps in Nget Chaung, Pauktaw Township on Saturday. He held a meeting with the representatives of the Rohingya IDP.
In the meeting the immigration head said “earlier, you have held the White Cards (Temporary Registration Cards). The government has taken back the white cards to issue the Green Cards according its planning.
Later after two years, if the government policy changes, the people that hold the cards will be considered for citizenships. It’s necessary for you to accept. You may be able to freely move in the future if you hold these cards.”
To which a Rohingya IDP representative responded “last time during the nationwide census in 2014, the government has tricked us in a big way. We can’t simply trust your words.
Now, these cards are issued to the foreigners for temporary stay. You might be thinking of us as foreigners. But we are not.
We are neither Bengalis nor foreigners. We are indigenous in this land and one of the indigenous people of this country. If we can claim our ethnic identity ‘Rohingya’ and are offered the full citizenship status which is equal to any other ethnic people in all regards, only then please visit us.
As of now, we categorically refuse to accept these cards. Please inform this to the central government.”
The Myanmar government is just desperate to finish their operation of making us Rohingyas into foreigners rather providing aids to the natural disaster hit victims first.
Last Friday, too, the officials from the Border Guard Police (BGP) led by the deputy Commander Brigadier General Aung Tun Min and MaKaPha (the Anti-Illegal Immigration Department) held a meeting with the local Rohingyas at the meeting of hall of BGP in Alay Than Kyaw (Haisshu Rata) village, southern Maungaw. They invited five representatives each from Rohingya villages in southern Maungdaw to the meeting.
In the meeting Brigadier General Aung Tun Min said “accept the Green Cards. Your situation will get better. If you don’t accept, it will be you who will lose at the end.”
U Abdul Hafiz, a Rohingya representative from Myint Hlut (Mer Ullah), village responded by saying “after 1955, the government has issued to National Registration Cards (NRCs) to everyone. Every ethnic group in this country was equal and had the same identity cards. We too had it.
However, when the government started to issue citizenship cards (Pink Cards), they left us out.
Therefore, we are citizens by birth and by law. The government just needs to issue the citizenship cards to us. And so, we don’t believe we need to apply for any consideration or accept any Green Cards.”
The BGP commander replied “I have also applied for the citizenship. So, you need to do the same.”
Another representative, also a religious scholar, in the meeting asked “what ethnic identity are you going to issue these cards with?”
The BGP officer answered “with ‘Bengali’ name.”
The representative explaining the history of the Rohingyas, said “we are Rohingyas, not Bengalis. The government has to issue the citizenship cards or any cards without mentioning ethnic name or religion like any other country. For examples, in American citizenship, it is only mentioned the Person is an American citizen. It doesn’t mention he/she belongs to what race or religion. Same cases with Pakistan or any other countries!
Hence, we won’t accept Bengali or any other name except for Rohingya.”
And then, the Deputy Commander concluded the meeting saying “Cats and Tiger never live together. Those who will accept these cards will have suffrages to vote.
You will all have the status the Citizenship under Verification/Consideration.”
On the other hand, the BGP from Inn Din (Aan Daang) and Thinbaw Kway (Kullon) Camps in southern Maungdaw along with MaKaPha (the Anti-Illegal Immigration Department) summoned the people in the Thinbaw Kway village for taking photographs for the purpose of the Green Cards. None of the villagers came up for taking photographs.
Therefore, they started beating and torturing all of the people passing-by in the village.
[Rohang Maung from Pauktaw and Rohingya Eye from Maungdaw contributed this report.]
[Edited by M.S. Anwar]
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