By M.S. Anwar
(Rohingya Vision) — Rohingya community, as a whole, categorically refuse to accept the Identity Cards for National/Citizenship Verification known as ‘Green Cards.’
The Green Cards (not to be mistaken with the likes of US’ Green Cards) are meant to issue to the foreigners recently arrived in Myanmar and valid for only two years. Therefore, accepting these cards will automatically disregard the fact that they are an indigenous people with the identity ‘Rohingya,’ disqualify their citizenship by birth and categorize them as the foreigners.
However, Myanmar’s immigration officials along with its armed forces have started to force Rohingyas to accept the cards under various means such as threats, tortures and increasing restrictions on movements. Yet, the majority Rohingyas have resisted/ are resisting the identity cards and few coming under their extreme pressures had to unwilling accept them (the ID Cards).
Last Sunday, around 11:00AM, the immigration officials held a meeting with the representatives of Rohingya community in the downtown of Kyauktaw. In the meeting, the officials discussed about the Identification Cards with the representatives and asked them to accept the cards.
Upon that, Saya U Maung Hla, a Rohingya representative, clearly replied “we will not accept any identification cards where our ethnic identity ‘Rohingya’ is not mentioned. It doesn’t matter what kind of identification cards that the central government wants to issue for us.” Then, the immigration officials cancelled the meeting saying “we have come to know what you want. We will inform/report the higher authorities about your demands,” Sallam Oic, a Rohingya Information Source, reported.
While on June 18 around 8:30AM, the immigration officials arrived at ‘Kyauk Talone’ IDP camps in Kyauk Phyu Township. After discussing with the internally displaced people (IDP) at the camps about the matter of the Green Cards, they left at around 11:00AM. They came again at 1:00PM and called on IDP to receive their respective Green Cards. Most of the IDP refused to accept them, around 8 people, falling in the honey trap of the officials accepted the cards.
Around 3:00PM of the day, the officials left saying they would come again the next day to issue the cards to the remaining people, according to Saeed Arakan, a grassroots Rohingya activist.
Some legal experts also view that the Rohingyas do not need to hold the Green Cards because the Rohingyas have been living in the state of Arakan (now called Rakhine) of Myanmar since the time of immemorial. These kinds of Identification Cards are normally issued to the foreigners as temporary stay permit for two years. Moreover, they legal experts remark that issuing such identification cards by force and against the will of the people against the law and the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar.
The Rohingyas have already lived for decades with National Registration Cards (NRC) for many years. Post 1990s, the former Myanmar Junta slowly confiscated or destroyed the NRC cards from their hands. While many Rohingyas were systematically dispossessed of the NRC cards, thousands of them still have NRC cards in their hands. They dare not dare not take out and show them to the concerned authority lest the cards should be confiscated.
“On June 16 in Chin Khali (Shil Khali) village in Rathedaung Township, the senior clerk of the village administration, U Than Aung, upon the directions by the higher authority, asked the villagers to give list of the people who possess NRCs and their respective (NRC) numbers. He coaxed the naïve villagers they would be offered citizenships upon doing so. Believing him, a few villagers gave their NRC numbers while majority refrained from doing so later coming to know his real intention.” said a local going under the identity of Mr ZKK.
“It is nothing but a blatant attempt by the authority to disposes the people of the NRC Cards” he added.
Coming to late 1990s and early 2000s, ‘White Cards (Temporary Identification Cards)” were issued to them. The government again confiscated the White Cards by last March and now has started to issue them the so-called Green Cards. From Indigenous ethic group, citizens, nationals to foreigners, the citizenship status of Rohingyas in Myanmar (Burma) is simply backsliding.
Read the earlier report: Myanmar’s Immigration Officials Force Rohingyas to Accept Green Cards
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