Burma urged to ensure their citizenship

Chittagong, Bangladesh: Bangladesh supports the Amnesty International (AI) statement that has called on Burma for giving citizenship to Rohingyas, who have been living for centuries in Rakhine state of Myanmar on July 21, according to Bangladesh officials.

The London-based AI called on Rangoon on July 20, to amend or repeal the 1982 citizenship law to ensure that Rohingyas living in Rakhine (Arakan) state are no more stateless people.

“The AI has just reciprocated our demand of decades, that Myanmar ensure citizenship to Rohingyas as quick as possible,” a senior official of the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) told.

The citizenship law introduced by General Ne Win in 1982 is not compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or with Myanmar’s legal obligations under international treaties, human rights groups say.

“The law arbitrarily stripped many people like Rohingyas in Myanmar, of the right to citizenship,” said a senior official of Chittagong-based the Historical Society of Arakan.

The call of AI came at a right time when Myanmar’s new parliament has begun its session, said the MoFA official.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni also urged Myanmar on July 18, to take back hundreds and thousands of registered and unregistered Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.

“Under international human rights law and standards, no one may be left or rendered stateless,” Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Myanmar Researcher, said in a statement on July 20.

For too long Myanmar’s human rights record has been marred by the continued denial of citizenship for Rohingyas and a host of discriminatory practices against them, the statement said.

The plight of Rohingyas has been re-exposed following fortnight-long communal riot in Arakan state bordering Bangladesh in June when scores of people, mostly minority Rohingyas, were killed and thousands were displaced.

The Myanmar government declared a state of emergency in Arakan state on June 10 and it has been in force in several areas, where Border Security Force (Nasaka), army, and police have conducted mass arrests in areas dwelt by Rohingyas.

“Declaring a state of emergency is not a license to commit human rights violations. It is the duty of security forces to defend the rights of everyone — without exception or discrimination — from abuses by others, while abiding by human rights standards themselves,” said Mr. Zawacki.

Hundreds of Rohingyas, mostly men and boys, have been detained in secret detention centers and the detainees were ill-treated and abused, added the statement.

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