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Myanmar’s ‘Smart Card’ Move Leaves Rohingyas Bewildered

By Rohingya Eye | January 20, 2017

Maungdaw — A new move by the Myanmar government to issue smart cards to the Rohingya people have left the them bewildered in the wake of the government’s earlier attempts to force them accept NVC Card also known as National Registration Card, says a local source. 

The Myanmar authorities has recently announced issuance of Smart-Cards to the Muslims in Maungdaw District (which includes Maungdaw and Buthidaung Townships) reportedly as (they would be issuing) to all people in nationwide regardless of race or religion. 

The Smart Card which is reportedly is an electronic identification card which includes the following details of the holder.

1) Name 

2) Nickname 

3) Father’s Name 

4) Mother’s Name 

5) Date of Birth 

6) Place of Birth 

7) Language Spoken 

8) Gender 

9) Occupation 

10) Type of Citizenship Cards Possessed Before 

11) Current Address 

12) Permanent Address 

13) Spouse’s Name if Married

This card is being issued to one apparently based on the type of the citizenship status he/she currently holds– be it he/she is a holder of the Pink Card (Citizenship Card), NRC (National Registration Card), White Card (Temporary Registration Card) or the Receipt of Submission of White Card — and without changing any bio-data described in their identity cards. Therefore, it is apparently just conversion of Paper ID Cards into Electronic Smart ID cards.

Never heard of any smart cards before, some Rohingyas in Buthidaung have recently rushed to the authorities to submit their names and details as mentioned in their IDs, mostly Receipts of Submission of White Cards, according to a local in the downtown of Buthidaung

However, most Rohingyas have been bewildered by the government move and are still skeptic if they should go for the smart cards. 

An educated Rohingya youth, while speaking to Rohingya Vision in Maungdaw, said “we fear that by going electronic, the temporary citizenship status (forced on us) will become permanent without any upgradation or our full citizenship status won’t be reinstated. We are also worried if it could be used as an alternative to the NVC Card. I mean like Electronic NVC Card, where the authorities could put in our data/details and our ethnic identity ‘Rohingya’ as ‘Bengali’, as they like and in absence of our knowledge.”

The government of Myanmar seems to have temporarily set aside the issue of the NVC card as the Rohingya people categorically reject the ID card for by the law of Myanmar as it is issued to the foreigners recently migrated to Myanmar and awaiting the approval of their Application for the Naturalized Citizenship status. 

Therefore, the acceptance of the NVC Card means it will deprive them of Indigenous Status and Citizenship Rights by birth.

Correction: NVC Card is also known as National Verification Card, not National Registration Card. Apologies for unintentional mistake.

[Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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