Recent events in Rakhine (Arakan) State, Burma, have many causes which need to be addressed.
On all sides, however, there is agreement that there needs to be clarification and proper implementation of citizenship laws.
Speaking in Norway on 18th June 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi said: “If we were very clear as to who are the citizens of the country, under citizenship laws, then there wouldn’t be the problem that is always coming up, that there are accusations that some people do not belong in Bangladesh, or some people do not belong in Burma.”
The Citizenship Law introduced by General Ne Win in 1982 is not compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or with Burma’s legal obligations under international treaties. It arbitrarily stripped many people in Burma of the right to citizenship.
The 1982 Citizenship Law should be repealed, and replaced with a new law founded on basic principles of human rights. The new law should honour equality and non-discrimination, and help create an inclusive and tolerant Burma.
The law should comply with Burma’s obligations under the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, to which it is a signatory. Article 7 of this Convention states:
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.
The new law should also be compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states in Article 15:
1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality
We call upon the government of Burma, the National League for Democracy and all political parties in Burma to support the repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law, and for it to be replaced with a new law based on principles of human rights and equality, in particular on Burma’s obligations under Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified in 1991.
We call upon the United Nations, our own governments, and the rest of the international community to express support for the repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law, and for it to be replaced with a new law based on principles of human rights and equality. Governments and the United Nations should encourage all parties in Burma to support such reform, and provide technical assistance and support, where required, in the drafting of a new law.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child can be viewed here:
The 1982 Citizenship Law of Burma can be viewed here:
The Arakan Project
Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC),
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Association Suisse Birmanie
Burma Action Ireland
Burma Campaign Australia
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Justice Committee
Chin Human Rights Organization
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Forum for Democracy in Burma
Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Institute for Asian Democracy
Norwegian Burma Committee
Open Society Foundations
People’s Forum on Burma (Japan)
People in Need
Physicians for Human Rights
Society for Threatened Peoples
Swedish Burma Committee
United to end Genocide
US Campaign for Burma