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Rohingyas Refuse to Accept the Green Cards Issued by Myanmar’s Officials

By Erham & IASM

Sittwe (Akyab), Arakan State (Rohingya Vision) — Myanmar’s authority arrived at Aung Mingalar Quarter in Sittwe Township yesterday to issue the Green Cards to the local Rohingyas, but only to see people not turning up to collect the cards, according to the reports.

Starting on Monday, in many townships including Sittwe and Maungdaw in Arakan State, Myanmar’s officials have been issuing the identification cards called Green Cards to the Rohingya people who had already returned their white cards to the government.

Similarly, Immigration Officials, Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing (Myanmar Egress) and some members of EU Organizations arrived at Aung Mingalar Quarter yesterday morning. The elders of Rohingya community welcomed them and placed them in the premise of the Madrasa (Religious School) in the village. Then, an immigration officer asked a person to call out to the villagers “the immigration officers are here. Come and collect your Green Cards.”

However, hardly did any Rohingya come up to collect the cards. The Rohingyas view that the Green Cards do not qualify them to be the citizens but rather disqualify their status of citizenship by birth. Even though it is a step closer to the citizenship according to Myanmar’s officials, Rohingyas do not want to accept it because their forefathers have been living in the state for centuries and need not go through the process like foreigners.

“We are citizens by birth. We are an indigenous people of this state. This Green Card only allows temporary stays in the country. But we are not temporary here. We are citizens of Myanmar.

Hence, these Green Cards do not have anything to do with us. The government knows that we are citizenships. Issuing these cards to us by the government even after knowing that we are Citizens of Myanmar means that they (the government) do not want to end the conflicts in our region” said an elderly person in Aung Min Galar.

“OK! Let me put it simply. We will accept any Cards if our ethnic identity ‘Rohingya’ is accepted and mentioned in the cards. We can’t figure out at all if such temporary cards are issued to bona-fide and legitimate citizens of a country” he continued.

Later, as the Rohingyas didn’t come up to collect the cards, the arriving officials had a closed door meeting with the community elders including U shwe Hla and U Aung Thein in Aung Min Galar.

Regarding issuing the Green Cards, U Khin Soe, an immigration officer in the state capital Sittwe, speaking to RFA’s Myanmar Service said “we’re giving this card to people who already returned their white cards to us. This cardholder can verify that he or she lives in Myanmar, but that person still needs to apply for and be verified for citizenship eligibility.”

“Once a person receives a green card, he can apply for citizenship, and then we will verify them,” he added.

The White Cards (i.e. Temporary Identification) were issued to the Rohingya people in late 1990s and early 2000s after their National Registration Identification Cards (NRIC) had been confiscated by the Government.

[Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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