Arakanese Leaders to Propose Detention Camps for Undocumented Rohingya

Rohingya women are pictured at the Thae Chaung camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Arakan State, on April 22, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Rohingya women are pictured at the Thae Chaung camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Arakan State, on April 22, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — Buddhist Arakanese leaders are considering a proposal that would see Rohingya Muslims without documentation proving their right to citizenship detained in camps.

The plan will be discussed publicly in the Arakan State capital, Sittwe, in the coming days, said Than Tun, an Arakanese leader and a member of the state’s Emergency Coordination Committee, and comes as a citizenship verification project is restarted for Muslims in Arakan State.

Clashes between ethnic Arakanese and Rohingya broke out in mid-2012 and about 140,000 people, mostly Muslims, still live in temporary camps after fleeing their homes. Arakanese Buddhists see the Rohingya, who are not a recognized ethnic group under Burmese law, as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and refer to them as Bengalis.

The nascent verification process—currently only underway in earnest in Myabon Township—is being conducted by the Ministry of Immigration to find out who is entitled to citizenship, based on how long their families have been settled in Burma.

Than Tun said a proposal would be sent to President Thein Sein asking that those who are not able to provide documentation be rounded up into camps.

“This is just our draft proposal. We will have a public meeting this week. After that, we will send the draft to the president. At the public meeting we will ask for [the public’s] agreement,” Than Tun told The Irrawaddy.

“This proposal refers to all Bengalis who stay in Arakan, including both those who stay in villages and those in refugee camps. This proposal comes from Sittwe, but it will be presented from all Arakanese.”

With Arakan State already dotted with large makeshift camps full of those displaced in earlier rounds of violence, the Burmese government may have to put undocumented Muslims elsewhere in Burma, Than Tun said.

“We will tell him [Thein Sein] if there is a problem to set up a camp for the people in Arakan, he can set up a camp in a suitable area in the union [Burma],” said Than Tun, who predicted that many people without documentation would be found in Sittwe, Maungdaw Township and Buthidaung Township.

“Firstly, they migrated to our land and they were illegal migrants. But they had children, and those children are born in our land, so we cannot say their children are illegal. But, their children are still illegal settlers.”

An estimated 1 million Rohingya live in Arakan State, many tracing their roots in the area back generations. Only a handful of people—who must first agree to identify themselves as Bengali—have so far taken part in the citizenship verification process.

A Rohingya activist said that many displaced people would not have possession of their documents, since they fled their homes to escape Buddhist mobs.

“They killed us and burned our houses. We did not have time to bring documents with us. If the government asks us for documents, we don’t have them,” said Aung Win from Sittwe, arguing that such lost documents should be replaced by the government.

“They should not say that those who do not have documents are stateless. If the government does this in Sittwe, our people will not go to the verification center.”

4 Responses to Arakanese Leaders to Propose Detention Camps for Undocumented Rohingya

  1. Those Arkanese Buddhist came from Bangladesh settle in Sittwe and other townships of Arakan at the time of Ra-ta-Nya also U Nu’s and dictator Ne Win’s eras, will be counted as what status of Arakanese or Bangladeshi Buddhist or Chakmar or Anaukthar which real Arakanese Buddhists use to call them. How can Veterinary Dr. Aye Maung become Burmese national is also a question? Because he was born in Bangladesh. Any body can see his right hand has vaccination spot. Bangladeshi peoples make right hand vaccination where as Burmese nationals make vaccination at left hand.
    That is a trade mark proof for nationality. Just some one become Buddhist can he or she be Burmese national? For instance Japanese Buddhists, Indian Buddhist, Siri Lanka Buddhist can be called Burmese national? The practice doing in Burma is wrong. Why should have to follow the Law of 1982 citizenship law? The law itself is against the human rights and violate international norms and especially designed to humiliate Muslims of Arakan and whole of Burma.

    The day will come to compile the cases against the designers of the Laws which are not international standard would be prosecuted not only in Burma also ICJ.

    All those Anaukthar Buddhist should be sent back to Bangladesh for the sake of national security since they are the only illegal immigrant from Bangladesh. At present how can some one dare and telling fault accusation to all Muslims of Arakan since the Anaukthar are the only Bangladeshi in Arakan also known as Bangalai Rakihne or Mugs.

  2. This is the right thing to do. US has many detention centers. Other countries around the world have detention centers. Myanmar regime has none. Border must be secured and illegal aliens must be detained and deported.

  3. As far as I am aware of, there are Burmese migrant workers (some of them with shady illegal documents) in a number of Muslim countries, such as Malaysia. They could face some kind of retaliation in return, so I wouldn’t go work in a Muslim country, if I am a poor Burmese. Just saying!

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