Monday, 18 November 2019

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Muslims in Arakan state get Temporary national ID cards

Dhaka (Mizzima) – As occurred prior to the may 2008 constitutional referendum, local authorities are reportedly going door to door issuing temporary national IDs to adult Muslims in some townships in Burma’s western Arakan State.  Arakan is home to a large Muslim Rohingya minority many of whom are denied Burmese citizenship despite having lived in Burma for generations.

Since mid February staff from the Burmese Immigration and Manpower Department have issued ID cards at a fast pace to people in Rethe Taung, Buthidaung and Maungdaw Townships.

"We visited all homes in our township in groups. We checked the Immigration Form 10 (family registration form) and updated the forms with current family members. And we issued national ID cards to all who have attained 18 years of age", an Immigration staff from Rethe Taung Township told to Mizzima.

MD. Mahabue from Taung Pyo, Maungdaw Township said, "I got my new ID card only on the 19th of this month. This ID states that it is a 'Temporary ID', race as 'Bengali' and religion as 'Islam'".

The colour of the temporary ID is white and it costs Ks. 3,000-4,000 per card. They are being processed within one week and it is unknown when they will be revoked again.

Similarly these temporary ID cards were issued before 2008 constitutional referendum and the holders of these cards could not go to other townships, a former member of Ward Peace and Development Council in Maungdaw Township said.   It is believed that the Burmese regime is distributing the ID’s so that Muslims in Arakan state can vote in the upcoming national election.

The plight of Arakan’s Muslim Rohingya made headlines last year when dozens of boats holding Rohingya refugees were pushed back into the ocean last year by Thai authorities.  In an attempt to counter the sympathetic coverage the Rohingya boatpeople received, Burma’s top diplomatic representative in Hong Kong sent a letter to his fellow diplomats in the territory that stated his regime’s position on the matter. In the letter he claimed that the Rohingya could not possibly be Burmese citizens because their skin was too dark and they are uglier than ogres.

According to a staff person from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Maungdaw, the percentage of Muslims in the townships where the temporary ID cards are being issued is 90% in Maungdaw, 70% in Buthidaung and 25% in Rethe Daung townships respectively.


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