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2014 Census in Burma Must be Universal and Inclusive of Rohingya

By Arakan Rohingya National Organisation, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan, Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia, Burmese Rohingya Community in Norway, Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand and Burmese Rohingya for Democracy in Burma  •  May 6, 2012

Recently the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA) has agreed to support Burma’s proposed 2014 population and housing census. But ‘Rights groups worry that if not conducted properly, the census could marginalize minorities such as the Rohingya or those living in one of Burma’s many conflict areas.’

No true census has ever been taken in Burma, and great injustice has been done to the ethnic Rohingyas. The government of U Thein Sein is beyond exception. His current wind of change has not touched the Rohingyas yet. Rather racist and xenophobic plans have been patronized and projected against them.

In an effort to deny Rohingya’s existence in Burma, (i) Immigration Ministers U Khin Yi accused the Rohingyas of being illegal Bangladeshi immigrants; (ii) Chief Political Advisor to the President U Ko Ko Hlaing confirmed that the restriction on their (Rohingyas’) freedom of movement is necessary from so-called national security perspective; and (iii) the Director General of Burma’s Department of Population Myint Kyaing lied in a proud manner, “we have no stateless people in Myanmar and there is no Rohingya in Myanmar as well, because no Bengali people are residing in Myanmar.”

Whereas Burma is surrounded by other populous neighbours such as, India, China and Thailand, why U Myint Kyaing proclaimed Burma is facing population pressures only from Bangladesh. On the contrary, due to persecution, an estimated 1.5 million Rohingyas are taking refuge in Bangladesh and other countries. Obviously these self-contradictory and politically motivated statements are nothing but preoccupation of Muslim-phobia and policies of exclusion and persecution against the Rohingyas. Under the circumstance, a credible census is very unlikely and Rohingya are likely to be excluded.

Meanwhile, to ensure the census is universal and “inclusive of all national races”, the oppressive 1982 citizenship law should be amended in conformity with international conventions, international custom and principle generally recognized with regard to nationality. In addition, it should be brought in line with the principles embodied in the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 30 August 1961. Suitable arrangements should also be made for the inclusion of all Rohingya and other Burmese diasporas.

We, therefore, urge upon the UN, OIC, UK, USA, EU, ASEAN and Burma’s neighbours to put pressure on Burmese government to genuinely include Rohingya as a ‘national race’ in the Burma’s proposed census.

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This post is in: Press Release

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