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Press Release: Rohingya Denied Right to Vote – New briefing on ‘White Card’ Withdrawal

Media Release from Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
For Immediate Release 
Thursday 2nd April 2015

Rohingya Denied Right to Vote – New briefing on ‘White Card’ Withdrawal

Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK today publishes a new briefing paper the escalation of repression of the Rohingya by President Thein Sein by withdrawing their right to vote.

The briefing paper: ‘The Rohingya, the Citizenship Law, temporary registration, and implementation of the Rakhine State Action Plan’, is available at

On February 11th 2015, President Thein Sein announced that all Temporary Registration Certificates, known as ‘White Cards’, would expire on 31st March 2015, and had to be returned to the authorities by 31st May.

At a stroke, this move has disenfranchised around a million people, mostly ethnic Rohingya, from the upcoming general election due in Burma in November 2015. It also prevents the Rohingya from taking part in a possible referendum on Burma’s constitution, which could take place this year.

The response from the international community to this further attack on the rights of the Rohingya was almost complete silence.

Having stripped the Rohingya of one of the few rights they did have, the ability to vote, President Thein Sein now intends to fully apply the 1982 Citizenship Law on the Rohingya. All Rohingya will now be processed under this law. But the provisions of this law mean that the vast majority, some experts predict well above ninety-percent, will not be able to meet the citizenship requirements of the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law. The intention of the Burmese government is then to place all these Rohingya into what amount to giant concentration camps, and then seek countries for them to be deported to.

The briefing paper also highlights the failure of the British government to take practical action to try to prevent further repression.

Although the British government has provided financial support for aid to internally displaced Rohingya, senior UN officials still describe the situation in the camps as the worst they have ever seen. Despite this, the British government is not supporting calls for higher level international pressure to persuade the Burmese government to allow unhindered international humanitarian access to the camps, such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon personally taking the lead in negotiating humanitarian access.

The British government is refusing to support calls for a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations and government policies against the Rohingya. Instead it says it is calling on the Burmese government to conduct its own investigations, even though they are aware that the Burmese government will not do so.

“It appears that no matter how serious the human rights violations against the Rohingya are, and what new policies President Thein Sein brings in to repress the Rohingya and try to drive the Rohingya out of Burma, it has no impact at all on the British government’s policy of supporting the Burmese government,” said Tun Khin, President of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK. 

For more information please contact Tun Khin on +44 (0) 7888714866.

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