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Ethnic alliance rejects Rohingya as non-Burmese

A group of eight ethnic parties allied with Burma’s opposition movement said in a statement it does not consider Rohingya as a fellow ethnic minority. The statement supported a position the group adopted in 2005, according to a report on the Radio Free Asia website on Wednesday.

Rohingya refugees in a United Nations camp in Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR“‘Rohingya’ is not to be recognized as a nationality,” said a statement by the National Democratic Front (NDF), saying it wanted its views to be known to “the people at home and in foreign lands” because of the sectarian violence that has erupted in Rakhine State, claiming nearly 80 lives since May 28.

Some 800,000 Rohingyas live in Burma, where the government considers them illegal immigrants and denies them citizenship. Most Burmese call Rohingya “Bengali.”

NDF Secretary Khun Oh told RFA, “Even before the current conflict, there has been frequent conflict between Rakhine and Bengalis,” referring to the Rohingyas as people from Bangladesh.

The NDF statement said the violence, which saw up to 3,000 homes and businesses burned, was a result of poor immigration regulations and enforcement.

However, Khun Oh told the news agency that some Rohingyas could be granted Burmese citizenship if they met appropriate qualifications, such as knowledge of the national language.

“Those who are already there, whether they came by the right [legal] means or not, and who meet qualifications for citizenship, should be granted it,” he was quoted as saying.

On July 15, Burmese President Thein Sein will travel to Bangladesh, which is home to up to 200,000 Rohingya refugees who have sought shelter there during the past decade, to discuss the Rohingya issue. Bangladesh has closed its borders in response to the unrest.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 June 2012 14:40 )  

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