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National Verification Card (NVC): A Hidden Trap for Myanmar’s Rohingya

Mohammed Ayub (TU), UAE
RB Article
October 22, 2017

Myanmar Military was never sincere in handling ethnics’ affairs, especially, in Rohingyas’ whose permanent home is northern Arakan. Throughout the history, military uses the Muslims population of the country for political diversion and benefits. After 9/11, 2001 attack in US, the perception of non-Muslims world towards the Muslims has changed in unbelievable way. This opportunity, though hidden anti-Muslims campaign has long been rooted in Myanmar, was best used by the power monger groups like Myanmar Military to de-attach the Muslims from mass public, and divert the attention of all-problems-bundle of the country towards Muslims by exposing post 2001 sentiments of Islam. As a result, majority Buddhists public of Myanmar, who has been caged more than five decades,turned away from the actual democratic movement of the country to join anti-Muslim movement and hence emerging a strong legal public anti-Muslim forces within Myanmar. 

Publically motivated anti-Muslim operations have gained momentum after the alleged murder of Rakhine woman by Muslim in mid-2012. The campaign has got fierce intensity throughout the years as groups like MaBaTha, 969 has been publically propagating anti-Muslim hate speeches with the Military sponsorship. ARSA’s attack on security posts of Arakan on 25th of august, 2017 met the Rohingyas with deadliest clearance operations that almost 600 thousands of Rohingya Muslims has poured into Bangladesh to escape historic brutalities of Myanmar Military and local Buddhists mobs.

Fortunately, Burmese Military has succeeded in filtering out Muslims from the anti-Military dictatorship forces with the injection of racially motivated propagandas to themajority xenophobic Buddhists public. The resultant achievement is both the Buddhist public, Military and government, have come under the same roof of de-rooting Rohingya Muslims from Arakan. Recent years have been the years of rigorous anti-Muslims campaign through different means; social media, mass public religious gatherings, that being a Muslim in Myanmar has become the greatest crime. And majority Buddhist perceives Muslims as a menace to their religion, race, culture and the country, so much so that they want Rohingya constitutionally disable if not completely eradicated from the soil of Arakan.

Actually, Rohingyas problem is based on well-founded fear created from the psychological disorder, dementia and xenophobe of Myanmar Buddhists. Logically speaking, the Myanmar have no problem with the word ‘Rohingya’ nor with the Muslim inhabitants that have long been residing in Arakan side by side. The problem with them is the religion, which Rohingyas believe in. Keep aside the volumes of history of pre-independent Burma; in post-independent Burma, there are mountains of historical evidences of Rohingya starting from the office of the then military war-fair to Myanmar’s Broadcasting Program, from Myanmar’s school, university textbooks to encyclopedia, from village chairman to MPs and Ministers. Xenophobic Buddhists are blatantly denying the Rohingya just because of superstitious belief that, if Muslims were given equal rights, whole Burma will be Islamized, were made conceived in the hearts of Buddhists in the successive military regimes. 

As said earlier, the Buddhists want Rohingya Muslims of Arakan to constitutionally disable by forcing them to accept National Verification Card (NVC) that in turn will make them foreigners.

From the legal perspective, NVC is not the product of any law or constitution of Myanmar, which is in force now. Even according to the clause 65 of notorious 1982 citizenship law, no NVC is required to issue citizenship card. It is a product of mere cowardice nationalist propagandists' imaginary islamophobic assumptions.

It is point-out-worthy that all the citizenship cards holder of Myanmar need not have to have NVC prior to citizenship cards. If the government of Myanmar sincerely wants to help solve the Rohingya crisis, there are many post-independent era’s records and evidences that it can depend on without imposing unconstitutional NVC card. The Government’s ulterior motive behind this NVC is making believe the world that the Rohingyas are foreigners who are recent immigrants to Arakan from Bangladesh.

The following points are some of many historical evidences that Rohingyas are not British era settler and hence no required to go for NVC cards. 

1. Rohingya holds the same citizenship NRC cards with 6 digits (where as foreigners hold FRC with 5 digits), which were issued after 1952-53 Mayu operations, as other ethnics of Myanmar and, were provoked in 1989 at the promise of issuing pink color citizenship cards. Unfortunately, 1990-91 exodus took place and what Rohingyas in return were gifted was White cards in 1995. If Myanmar sincerely wants to solve Rohingya crisis, it can base on those records and details collected in 1989. In 1993, NaSaKa aliases Border Immigrations Head Quarters (BIHQ) were deployed in Arakan with special decree and power solely aimed at Rohingyas. And every year onwards were scrutiny and records of Rohingyas with group family photo but found none of illegal entry. 

2. After Burma independence, all ethnics groups including Rohingyas took rebellion against Burmese government for autonomy. And the Rohingya Mujahids were the first to surrender to the central government for the sake of peace, tranquility and betterment of the sate and, were recognized as Rohingya indigenous ethnic as Rakhine.

3. In 1872, per square mile population of Arakan was 33 and that of Bengal was about 450. Even at that time, having unrestricted movement within British India, and greener pastures in British-Burma, dense-populatedly living Bengali had not seen flooding into British Arakan for good. Whoever, came was for seasonal work and went back after pocketful of money. And still Myanmar Buddhists say over populated Bangladesh pours Bengali to Arakan, a modern day killing field for Muslims.

4. On many occasions, Government imported Bengali Buddhists from Bangladesh with A to Z support. They could not survive in the golden Arakan having seen no future and returned Bangladesh. And still Myanmarsays Muslims are entering Myanmar while their fellow Bengali Buddhists did not survive because of zero opportunity and dead future.

5. No Muslim's "official family list" is left intact, except for dead or any other reasons, that member entry is stroked with red pen with remark that reads, " fled to Bangladesh". And still Myanmar accuses Rohingya of illegally coming in to Arakan.

6. In 2012, ex-president U Thein Sein and ex-immigration Minister U Khin Yee confessed in a VOA interview that there were no illegal Muslims residing in Arakan. And still Myanmar label Rohingya as "Khoewin" (ခိုးဝင္) meaning illegal immigrants.

7. And also under different rules of British, Arakan was under British-Burma, British-India and British-Bengal, where in all cases British censured the indigenous Muslim populations of Arakan as either Mahomadensor Mussulmans or Arakanese Mahomadens or Arakanese Mussulmans.

8. What Myanmar propagandist portrayed the Rohingya history is that there were no Muslim (Rohingya) inhabitants in the soil of Arakan before 1823 and they came into existence in Arakan only after British annexation when the Britishers brought many Muslimsfrom Bengal as laborers, ignoring piles of historical evidences as early as 1000 years before British conquest.

9. It was recorded in 1872 British-Burma census that there were 100,000 souls (of whom 30,000 were Muslims Rohingya) in Arakan when British annexed Arakan in 1826 and, many Muslims who escaped the brutal Burmese killings in 1784 returned to their original home Arakan when situation became peaceful in Arakan. And still there were uncertainty in Arakan and some Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh in 1874 prefer to work as “seasonal laborers” in Arakan than settling back there in Arakan.

10. 1942 Muslim-Buddhist riot forced refuge the Buddhist populations of Northern to the southern part of Arakan and Muslim population of Southern into Northern part of Arakan and that is the reason why Muslims are densely populated in Northern Arakan. 

From the above points one can comprehend and ponder that the Rohingyas are the core people of the soil of Arakan and requires no NVC process, as they have been under tight surveillance and scrutiny in the successive governments.What Myanmar’s perception about Rohingya was that Myanmar is sandwiched between two over populated countries; Bangladesh and China, and it needs verification process in place to deter illegal entry from Bangladesh and China. When China is concerned, Myanmar ignores even national sovereignty concerns, at the same time welcoming the Chinese with all its race, religion, culture and scarce resources. The Chinese from the eastern gate penetrated into Myanmar and gradually has absorbed and distortedMyanmar’s race, culture and resources and passed through the western gate (Arakan). Astonishingly, whole Myanmarremains silent on the matter and unwise, foolish discriminatory agendas are put in practice against Rohingya Muslims. 

Through out the Military regimes to date, no single illegal entry residing in Arakan can be brought forward by Myanmar to International surface, and contrary to that, the international bodies are witnessing Rohingyas fleeing due to the heinous crimes committed to them by the Military and local mobs. Annan Commission left dubious state regarding citizenship status of Rohingya in his final reportenforcing NVC process even to be allowed with uncles’ or aunts’ documents when one’s own documents are not available. On the other hand, the report also emphasizes to amendment of the 1982 citizenship law. So, no clear cut strategy was advised in the report for the citizenship of Rohingya, whose the same was stripped off by the enforcement of 1982 citizenship law after 1978 refugees take-back. 

In the most years of tyrant rule of Military, Rohingya Muslims were suffered from all aspects of life and also Arakan has never been a safe place for Rohingya Muslims, which 1784, 1978,1991 and 2017 exoduses testified. Rohingyas are dying to live in Arakan because it is their ancestral land. Economically, Bangladesh is in relatively better position than Myanmar and it is a nasty ideology to accuse of Rohingyas of recent immigrants from Bangladesh and enforcing them for NVCs. In conclusion, It would be wise choice for Myanmar to restrain using the word “Bengali” when referring Muslim minority Rohingya and, to stop enforcing NVC cards to Rohingyas. And last but not the least, all Rohingyas should be called back with assurance of recognition, safety, security, and many other civil rights.

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