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Rohingyas are not illegal immigrants, says U.S. President Obama

RB News 
November 18, 2014

Yangon, MyanmarDuring U.S. President Obama’s visit to Naypyidaw and Yangon from November 12 to 14, 15 members from civil societies and communities, including U Shwe Maung, a Rohingya, Member of Parliament representing Buthidaung Township of Arakan State, were invited for a round-table meeting at U.S. Embassy in Yangon on November 14 in the afternoon. 

According to Rohingya MP U Shwe Maung, as stated in a post about the meeting on his Facebook and Twitter, he requests President Obama to help to restore the rights of Rohingyas in cooperation with Myanmar president U Thein Sein. 

U Shwe Maung relayed concerns for the 140,000 IDPs in Arakan, human rights violation against Rohingyas and other Muslims based on different faith and race, and how race and religion described on citizenship cards have become a license to discriminate the citizens on this basis.

He stressed in the meeting that Rohingyas are not illegal immigrants, but rather that they are indigenous people of Arakan and lived peacefully with Rakhine, Kaman and other ethnics for many centuries. Rohingyas enjoyed full citizenship rights after independence of Burma in 1948 but now Rohingyas are accused of being illegal immigrants. And he added that Rohingyas have been in Arakan since before 1823 and are eligible for bona-fide citizenship in accordance with 1982 Myanmar citizenship law. 

In response to a participant's discussion, President Obama said that ethnic Rohingyas are not illegal immigrants, that they are from Myanmar, they have been living in Myanmar since a very long time ago and they need to be accepted as citizens of Myanmar, according to U Shwe Maung’s post on Facebook and Twitter. 

Although the Myanmar government has recently objected the usage of the term ‘Rohingya” by United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon in an open letter by Rakhine State Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn, and through votes at Union Parliament, no comment was said against Obama’s use of the term ‘Rohingya’ which he stated even publicly and privately several times during his visit.

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