Rohingya American Society Strongly Condemn Forcing Bengalization Attempt of President Thein Sein

Press Release
Date: September 23, 2014

We, the leadership and members of the Rohingya American Society (RAS) strongly condemn the forced Bengalization attempt of President Thein Sein Government to helpless Rohingya native of the soil of Arakan (Rakhine-prey) through the immigration process enforcing the discriminatory 1982 Myanmar citizenship law which made the Rohingyas stateless in their own homeland.

In this context, we would like to reiterate that the 1982 Myanmar (Burma) citizenship law adopted in October 1982 by the previous Burmese Govt. led by the late General Ne Win is not related with the national status checking of the Rohingya Muslims of Arakan who are already citizens by birth and according to the 1947 Constitution, 1947 Burmese Residence and Registration Act, 1948 Burmese Citizenship law, and 1974 Burmese Constitution as well as per the 1948 Burma Independence Declaration according to the Nu-Atlee Agreement.

In fact this 1982 Myanmar (Burma) Citizenship law is concerned with the suspected foreigners and immigrants whose citizenship status needed to be scrutinized in Arakan such as those two hundred and fifty thousand RAKHINE (MOGS) Bangladeshi citizens who were born and brought up in neighboring Bangladesh and citizens of that country by birth, who entered into Arakan illegally and staying without the knowledge of Myanmar government and its central immigration organ functioning by the Rakhine ruling elite group.

The truth is that Rohingyas known as Mohammedan in accordance with British Census in 1826, 1872, 1911 and 1944 are already indigenous Myanmar citizens according to the Article No-3 and 6 of 1982 Myanmar citizenship law. So, enforcing and implementing the 1982 Myanmar citizenship law against the native Rohingya people forcing them to identify as Bengali is a matter of great concern to the world and UN.

This 1982 Myanmar citizenship law was intentionally created and approved by the Govt. of Myanmar (Burma) to exclude the Rohingya people from Myanmar citizenship rights.

The effect of the Myanmar Citizenship Law 1982 is to make it almost impossible for the Rohingya people to gain citizenship. This violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and international norms prohibiting discrimination of racial and religious minorities. The legal and practical constraints imposed by the Myanmar Citizenship Law 1982 render it “almost impossible” for the Rohingya people to be recognized as citizens of Myanmar. In fact that the Rohingyas are effectively excluded from citizenship is a clear violation of international human rights law. It is a fundamental principle that “everyone has the right to a nationality. This principle is especially important in relation to the children. 

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides in terms that every child “shall have from birth...the right to acquire a nationality”. As a party to that Convention, Burma is obliged to “ensure the implementation” of every child’s right to acquire a nationality. Since it is almost impossible for a Rohingya, and in particular a Rohingya child, to acquire Burmese citizenship, the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law violates the fundamental right to a nationality.

Moreover, since the Rohingya have no other nationality, the effect of the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law is to render them stateless. This is significant because Burma is specifically obliged to ensure a child’s right to acquire a nationality “where the child would otherwise be stateless”. 

Moreover, it runs contrary to many other international instruments which aim to limit statelessness. The 1982 Citizenship Law also violates international norms against discrimination. Ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 it has been recognized as a fundamental principle that “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race and religion”. This principle has been repeated consistently in international Conventions. The rights of children, including the right to acquire nationality, must also be respected “without discrimination of any kind.

So, we sincerely urge and strongly demand the President Thein Sein Government to immediately stop undemocratic process of forced Bengalization of Rohingya’ immigration process in any forms using the policy of stick and carrot to helpless Rohingyas.

We earnestly recommend the GOM (Government of Myanmar) to restore the Rohingyas' citizenship rights disregarding 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law and dismantle the IDP camps allowing all Rohingyas to return to their original own places with full compensation and reconstruction of their villages, houses, religious school and places of worship (mosques) burnt and destroyed by Rakhine mob with the help of Burmese security forces.

We also urge the world Governments including USA, EU, ASEAN, OIC and United Nations to put strong pressure to Myanmar current government to cease all forms of human rights violation against the ethnic Rohingya people and restore their fundamental and citizenship rights in Myanmar to make the country a better place for all people of Burma.

Note: Rohingya American Society (RAS) is a formerly known as “The Burmese Rohingya American Friendship Association (BRAFA).” 

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