• Thursday, Oct 21, 2021
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Rohingya crisis: 1982 citizenship law needs reform, UN secretary-general’s special envoy tells UNGA

  • Published at 11:43 pm October 24th, 2019
Rohingya people-Syed zakir Hossain
File photo: Rohingya people line up to be interviewed for the repatriation to Myanmar outside the office of the camp-in-charge in Shalbagan refugee camp, Cox's Bazar on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Citizenship to be granted in accordance with that law, says Myanmar

It is still predicated on the 1982 citizenship law, which denies Rohingya population citizenship. This law is in need of reform, as it fails to meet international legal standards related to non-discrimination, and prevention of statelessness, Christine Schraner Burgener, special envoy of United Nations secretary general for Myanmar, has said. 

On Wednesday, speaking on the UN chief’s report regarding Myanmar at UN general assembly’s third committee that deals with humanitarian issues, she underscored the importance of addressing underlying issues, including discrimination, persecution, the lack of legal status, and a credible process for citizenship.

In response, the representative of Myanmar said that the citizenship of Rohingyas will be granted in accordance with the 1982 citizenship law, and verified returnees will receive a national verification card upon their arrival at the reception centre after biometric data is taken.

These are temporary identification cards that are used prior to gaining citizenship status, he said.

Though the government of Myanmar has committed to implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission headed by the late Kofi Annan, and has a national strategy on the closure of camps for internally displaced persons, the civilian and military authorities must take “a resounding unified stance” against incitement, and hatred, said Burgner, a Swiss diplomat. 

She visited Myanmar after the publication of the report, and will visit for the ninth time in November, during which she will engage with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other leaders, and interact with the violence affected communities in Rakhine. 

She will also visit Bangladesh to have interactions with the forcibly displaced Rohingyas sheltered in Cox’s Bazar.

Access of the UN and its partners to violence affected areas remain a problem, observed the special envoy, adding that the Myanmar authorities must create conditions conducive to safe, voluntary, and dignified return of the displaced Rohingyas.

Her field visits to Rakhine evoked a “strong sense of communal tension on the ground”, which suggests the need for greater interfaith, and inter-communal dialogue, she said, expressing concern about the deteriorating security situation in Rakhine, due to clashes between the Arakan Army, and the military.

People have been killed, houses have been burned, “sparking haunting recent memory,” said Burgener, adding that fighting has also resumed in Kachin, and Northern Shan.

Turning to accountability, she said that credible investigations, and prosecutions are crucial, from the point of view of victims and the transparent, effective outcome of Myanmar’s Independent Commission of Enquiry is vital towards this end.

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