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Only 1,600 Rohingya apply for green cards

Photo: UNHCR/M.Murphy

July 15, 2015

A plan by officials in Myanmar to issue new identity cards in Rakhine state has fallen short, with only 1,600 Rohingya applying for the green cards according to a report by VOA on 13 July.

The cards, aimed at providing legal documentation while people go through the citizenship process, are meant to replace the nearly 400,000 white identity cards that authorities revoked earlier this year.

But Maung Maung Than, Director General of the Rakhine State Immigration and Population Department, says some will not accept the new cards if the government insists they identify themselves as Bengali.

“New documents for those who want to seek citizenship are being issued and some have applied and already received it," he said. "Others are also being advised to do so. In the meantime, there are some instigators [who say] that [they] will only accept [the cards] if the term Rohingya is recognized.”

Authorities want the Rohingya to first identify themselves as Bengalis before the government will determine whether they can become citizens. Officials say the term “Rohingya” implies an ethnic claim that involves territory and is much more complicated than just citizenship.

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