The denial of citizenship to the Rohingya people is one of the foundation stones which underpins prejudice and violence against the Rohingya. Their right of citizenship is one of the top demands of Rohingya, including a key condition for refugees before returning to Burma.
A new briefing ‘Rohingya Citizenship. Now or Never?’ published today by Burma Campaign UK warns that political developments such as Burma’s 2020 election may mean that there is only a window of 12-18 months where there is a realistic chance of a change in the 1982 Citizenship Law and all Rohingya receiving citizenship. After this time, the election cycle and political changes in the country may mean there will never again be the opportunity that exists right now.
Burma Campaign UK warns that the return to language about ‘pathways to citizenship’ being used by the international community may mean the Rohingya never receive citizenship, as there is no time left for a long drawn out process.
The briefing paper argues that there will never be a good time to change the Citizenship Law as far as the government of Burma is concerned, but now is probably the best time as Aung San Suu Kyi has the political power to push through such a controversial change.
“International pressure needs to be focussed on an immediate change to the Citizenship Law, not supporting long drawn out processes of implementing NVC cards, then implementing the illegal 1982 Citizenship law, and then a government review, all of which will take many years,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “The international community are making a dangerous gamble by supporting delaying citizenship for the Rohingya. They are gambling on the outcome of Burma’s next election, gambling that there will not be more instability as a result of the failure to address this issue. In effect, they are gambling with the lives of the Rohingya because they are unwilling to stand up to the government of Burma on this issue.”