Sittwe, March 19
Hundreds of hard-line Buddhists in a Myanmar state wracked by religious violence protested today against the government’s plan to give citizenship to some members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority community.
Rakhine state’s dominant Arakan National Party led the protest in Sittwe, the state capital, where many Rohingya lived before an outbreak of inter-communal violence in 2012 forced them to flee their homes.
“We are protesting to tell the government to rightfully follow the 1982 citizenship law and we cannot allow the government giving citizenship cards to these illegal migrants,” said Aung Htay, a protest organiser.
Today’s protest took place three days after the Rakhine Advisory Commission, led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, urged Myanmar’s government to reconsider a failed programme to verify Rohingya for Myanmar citizenship and to remove restrictions on freedom of movement.
“We also look at the question of citizenship, and we also call for all those who have been recognised as citizens to have all the rights attached to that citizenship,” Ghassan Salame, a member of the commission, said last week. Myanmar’s new civilian government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, welcomed the commission’s proposal. — AP
Outsiders in own country
- The Rohingya community faces severe discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, many considering them illegal migrants from Bangladesh
- The 2012 violence killed hundreds and drove about 1,40,000 people predominantly Rohingyas from their homes to camps for the displaced
- Rakhine, one of the poorest states in Myanmar, is home to more than 1 million stateless Rohingyas, who have been in Myanmar for generations
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