A report by Refugees International
Two years after a wave of violence hit the region, Rakhine State has become a segregated zone. Two million ethnic Rakhine live apart from 1.2 million stateless Rohingya, who are trapped inside displacement camps or barred from leaving their villages. Ending this segregation and protecting the rights of the Rohingya are necessary components of Myanmar’s move toward democracy. However, the Rakhine leadership has rejected – both politically and with force – any reintegration of the two communities, and it is seeking to exclude the Rohingya from any role in the state’s development, distribution of resources, and political representation.
Recently, Myanmar’s central government developed a draft “Rakhine Action Plan” that would provide some Rohingya with the opportunity to apply for citizenship, but only if they identify as ethnically “Bengali.” Those who are found ineligible for citizenship, or who refuse to comply, would be rendered to internment camps. The plan as currently drafted is indefensible, and the international community must demand that it be revised to reflect the rights of Rohingya to self-identify, secure citizenship, and live without arbitrary restrictions on their movement, religion, education, and livelihoods. The plan must also support the positive development of all communities in Rakhine State.