Rohingya Vision

Rohingya Muslims defiant as ‘white card’ deadline arrives

Sultan Ahmed, 16, shows reporters his white card at the Thae Chaung IDP camp in Sittwe township.(Photo by:Will Baxter)

Rohingya Muslims defiant as ‘white card’ deadline arrives
April 01
10:20 2015

Holding up a small white card — the only form of identification he has ever possessed — Sultan Ahmed is steadfast. 

“I will not hand this card over to the authorities,” says the wiry 16-year-old Muslim Rohingya, interviewed by last week at Thae Chaung camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Akyab (Sittwe) township, Arakan (Rakhine) state.

Sultan Ahmed’s is one of as many as 900,000 white-colored Temporary Registration Cards held by people living in Myanmar. By presidential decree, the cards were expired on 31st March, after which time holders of the so-called White Cards must hand them over to authorities.

“I’m going to hold onto it, even if it is not valid,” says Sultan Ahmed. “I’m afraid that if the government takes this from me, they might do something to harm me later.”

In June 2012, when one sided attack on Rohingya Muslims by Rakhine Buddhist raged, Sultan Ahmed was fortunate to be away from his home, visiting friends in another village.

“My parents lost their documents in the fire. I only have it because it was in my pocket,” he said. “I still hope that I will be able to use it again in the future.”

White Cards and the claims to citizenship they represent are a highly charged political issue in a country in the throes of a faltering transition from centralized military rule toward something like a federal democracy. The Myanmar government does not recognize Rohingya as one of its national races, blocking most of them from citizenship although most of their ancestors have lived there  for generations.

After Myanmar’s Union Parliament decided on February 2 to grant White-Card holders the right to vote in a constitutional referendum, protests from Rakhine extrimist, monks and other Buddhists began immediately.

The order promising the cards’ expiration came within days. President Thein Sein’s February 11 statement said the cards must be handed over within two months of March 31 in a process he promised would be “fair and transparent.” But most fear that if officials attempt to seize the documents, they will risk sparking further unrest.

Note:Changes have been made,UCA news is not responsible for these.

Source:UCA news.




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