Situation in Arakan State, Myanmar | Greenwatch Dhaka | The leading online daily of Bangladesh

Situation in Arakan State, Myanmar

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by Dr. Wakar Uddin, Director General, Arakan Rohingya Union
There is no sign ofthe GovernmentofMyanmar/Burma backingdown fromits hostile policies
against the Rohingya and other Muslim community in Myanmar. Series of recent actions by
the Government of Myanmar against Rohingya and the Muslim population range from
tightening the restrictions on Rohingya (basic human right violations) in various townships
inArakan stateto reshufflingofseniorUSDP officials andanti-Muslim legislation inthe capital
city, Naypyitaw, including the religious conversion law and the marriage law.Disenfranchisement of Muslims from voting in 2015 National Election: The Government of Myanmar has disenfranchised Rohingya and Kamen Muslims from the national election that is scheduled for November 8, 2015. This is the first time in the history of Myanmar the Rohingya and Kamen Muslims have been denied to vote in national election.
Further, the registration applications by Muslim candidates to contest in the national
election have been denied. To date, application for registration to contest in the election by
all the Rohingya, Kamen, and Myanmar Muslim candidates (total 42), have been denied on a
groundthat they are not citizens ofMyanmar. The candidates include three Rohingya sitting-
MPs in National Parliament, and two Rohingya MPs in the Arakan State Assembly. The
numbers of Muslim candidates and the political parties that have been denied to contest in
the election are:
Rohingya Muslim
Democracy and Human Rights Party -18 candidates
National Democratic Party for Development – 3 candidates
National Democratic Party for Peace – 6 candidates
Kamen Muslim
All Myanmar Kamen Development Party – 3 candidates
Kamen National Development Party – 2 candidates
Myanmar Muslim
Pathi Myanmar Muslim Party – 6 candidates
Independent candidates
All Rohingya – 4 candidates
The Government of Myanmar began to revoke the National Registration Certificate –
NRC (known as Amyotha Mappontin Kappya) from mid-1960s, eventually confiscating most
of them just before instituting the 1982 Citizenship Law by the Military Junta. Recently,
following the 2012 violence against Rohingya and Kamen by the Buddhist mobs, the
Government of Myanmar has branded the Kamen Muslim as “Bengali”, despite their status
of full citizenship as an ethnic minority group out of the 135 recognized by the Government
of Myanmar. In September 2015, the Government of Myanmar has rejected registration
application by both the Kamen Muslim parties to contest in the national election on a ground
that they are non-citizens.
Potential Violence by Buddhist Rakhine in Arakan during the election campaigns
There are alarming indications of pre-planning of violence against Rohingya by Buddhist
Rakhine, following the same pattern ofviolence against Rohingya and otherMuslims in 2012
and 2013. In addition to the recent activities in the Buddhist Rakhine communities such as
increased hate speech, extensive movement of Buddhist Rakhine armed groups (Arakan
Army) along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, harassment of Rohingya by Rakhine mobs
and Rakhine police, the elected officials of Rakhine State have also been making provocative
statements. In an incendiary speech by the new Chief Minister of Rakhine state, U Mra Aung
(ruling USDP) reportedly addressed Rakhine groups in a large public gathering. He stated:
“The ‘Bengali’ Muslims (implying Rohingya) in Northern Rakhine state are planning to
commit violence against Rakhine because they are barred from the upcoming election, and the
Bengali Muslim terrorist groups have also infiltrated Arakan; therefore, you (the Buddhist
Rakhine community) must be prepared to defend yourselves as you did in the past”.
The new Chief Minister has been reportedly traveling to various townships in Arakan state
and making similar statements. There are major concerns in the Rohingya community in
Arakan over the incendiaryspeech oftheGovernment officials andBhuddist Rakhine leaders
that is likelyto set off newwaves of violence against Rohingya bythe Buddhist Rakhine mobs
on the pretext of barring Rohingya from upcoming election. There are also concerns in the
Rohingya community in Arakan that Buddhist Rakhine Government officials in Arakan are
evidently planning to set off new waves of population movement and refugee crisis while
there are over 140,000 Rohingya IDPs languishing in camps in Arakan.
Human Smuggling and Trafficking Season Lies Ahead: As in every year, smuggling and trafficking of Rohingya from IDP camps and Rohingya
villages to Southeast Asia have subsided recently during the monsoon season, particularly
due to the torrential rain and rough seas. There are major concerns in the Rohingya
community in Arakan that continuous exploitation of Rohingya in IDP camps by human
traffickers and the calm seas with favorable weather conditions during the upcoming winter
will likely cause the resumption of human trafficking across the Indian Ocean to Thailand,
Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Conclusion: The Government of Myanmar has stepped up its human right violations and ethnic cleansing
campaigns against Rohingya and the Muslim population in Myanmar. Over 500,000 eligible
Rohingya (over the age of 18) have participated in 2010 election as citizens of Myanmar.
On the contrary, the Government of Myanmar has launched campaigns to eliminate the
ethnic identity of Rohingya and Kamen, branding them as “Bengali or illegal Bengali
Immigrant”,inanattempt todegrade theirfullcitizenshipto “thirdclass citizenship”through
naturalization process. The Rohingya people appeal to the international community to
pressure the Government of Myanmar:
To allow all the Rohingya holding the former NRC cards, white cards, and other
nationality documentations, to vote in the National Election on November 8, 2015.
To allow all the Rohingya, Kamen, and Myanmar Muslim political parties to contest
in the National Election on November 8, 2015.
Toinvestigatethe incendiaryhate speechbythe Chief Minister ofRakhineStateand
the monks, and take appropriate actions to prevent a volatile situation leading to
possible violence.
Abolish the religious conversion andmarriage laws,andother legislations targeting
Muslims and Christians minorities.
Tocooperatewith the international community in preventingthehuman trafficking
to various destinations in Southeast Asia through the sea and land routes during
the upcoming trafficking season in the winter.
To reinstate all their basic rights, including the right to travel, right to marry, right
to education, freedom to worship, and others. – www.ar-union.org
(ARAKAN ROHINGYA UNION SUMMARY REPORT TO OIC ON SITUATION IN ARAKAN STATE, BURMA/MYANMAR submitted on 19 September 2015)

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