Muslim Political Parties Seek Rohingya Census Recognition

Myanmar, Burma, The Irrawaddy, Rohingya, census, Arakan, Muslim

Kyaw Min, chairman of the Democracy and Human Rights Party (DHRP), speaks at a press conference on Friday in Rangoon. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Two Muslim political parties in Rangoon have asked the Burmese government to recognize their religious kin in western Burma’s Arakan State as Rohingya, a minority group that is currently denied citizenship, as the country gears up for a nationwide census later this year.

The two parties, the National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD) and the Democracy and Human Rights Party (DHRP), held a press conference on Friday in Rangoon, where leaders of the two parties told journalists that they would ask the government to recognize their Muslim constituents in Arakan State as Rohingya. They will seek the option to tick Rohingya among the list of ethnic groups that takers of the census will be asked to identify as.

The press conference came following a meeting between the two parties and Burma’s Immigration Minister Khin Ye, who asked for the political parties’ help in collecting census from Muslims in Arakan State. The party leaders agreed to provide assistance, but said on Friday that they would do so while pushing the government to recognize Muslims in Arakan as Rohingya.

“We are holding this press conference because we want the media to know that we are willing to help in taking the census among Muslim people in Arakan State. We wish to restore peace and rebuild Rakhine [Arakan] State,” said Kyaw Min, who is the chairman of the DHRP.

Government data from 2010 put Arakan State’s population at about 3,340,000 people, of which the Muslim population accounts for 29 percent.

Kyaw Min said recognizing Rohingya Muslims was a matter of basic human rights.

“Every human race has its own identity. We have our identity already,” Kyaw Min said. “This is not just now—we have had it for a long time. But we have found that there is discrimination in the country, which ignores our demand that our identity be recognized.”

Khin Maung Myint, an executive member of the NDPD, said the two parties would assist with administering the census in Arakan State from March to April.

Muslims in Arakan State and human rights advocates among the international community have repeatedly requested that the Burmese government recognize the Rohingya, but the government has continued to adhere to a 1982 Citizenship Law that bars them from citizenship and makes reference to the minority as “Bengalis.” The term derives from the fact that the government considers them illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

Many local Arakanse Buddhists worry that government recognition of the Rohingya population would precede an eventual shift in demographics in Arakan State, and with that a loss of political power and cultural identity.

Kyaw Min of the DHRP sought to dispel those fears on Friday.

“For many decades, the local Buddhist Arakanese and Rohingya people lived peacefully as one community in the region,” Kyaw Min said.

The help of the two parties could go some way toward ensuring that the 2014 census succeeds. In recent years the Burmese government has made several attempts to survey the Muslim population in Arakan State, but Muslims have refused to cooperate because the option to identify as Rohingya was not offered.

In its joint statement on Friday, the two parties said recognizing Rohingya Muslims—and guaranteeing the minority group equal rights—would contribute to peace and stable development in Arakan State.

“There should be no discrimination, and the government has a duty to give citizenship to its Muslims. We should have the choice to be Rohingya.”

During two outbreaks of religious violence in 2012, nearly 200 people were killed and about 140,000 displaced, most of them Muslims. About half of the displaced were Muslim residents who were chased out of the Arakan State capital Sittwe by local Buddhist Arakanese groups. Most of the displaced continue to reside in squalid, crowded camps.

In the aftermath of the 2012 violence, Burma’s President Thein Sein said Burma would not accept Rohingyas as citizens and has asked the United Nations to help to resettle them in any other country willing to take them in.

There are an estimated 800,000 Rohingya in Burma.

10 Responses to Muslim Political Parties Seek Rohingya Census Recognition

  1. Are there Buddhist Political Parties,Hindu Political Parties,Christian Political Parties,Bahai Political Parties and etc???

    The name Rhohinja is not in Burmese History.

    • Please have a look at the logo of the socalled democracy and human rights party – it is the same logo of the islamist extremist militant party Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan (and also Jamat-e-Islami Bangladesh). The name of democracy and human rights alone does not guarantee that it is a real democracy and human rights party. It is a wolf wearing a lamb’s skin.

  2. The very best thing the country must do is to abolish those two parties.
    All so called 135 ethnic nationalities must rally and demand the government the abolition of said two parties that support fake ethnic Rohingya issue.
    All other political parties must rally and demand the government to abolish those two parties.
    All Myanmar people must come out and say clearly to our President and Army to kick out all Bengalese infiltrators.

    This issue must cease now and every person that support those fake ethnic group of unfortunate, but hugely dishonest Bengalese must be be condemned remarkable by the government. DHRP and NDPD leaders must go to jail for life!!!

  3. In the aftermath of the 2012 violence, Burma’s President Thein Sein said Burma would not accept Rohingyas as citizens and has asked the United Nations to help to resettle them in any other country willing to take them in.

    This is a crime against humanity. It gives the green light to people the junta recognize as citizens to attack people it doesn’t recognize as citizens. Come on Ban Ki Moon, pull your finger out.

  4. Kyaw Min said recognizing Rohingya Muslims was a matter of basic human rights.

    I agreed everyone in Burma must have basic Human Right but you can not demand inventing ethnic identity as basic Human Right of illegal Bengali migrants.
    We do not know Bengali ethnic has other name but in Burmese language we do not have Rohingya and so we called people came from Bangladesh is Bengali Muslim or Bengali Kalar. Kalar is not derogatory term for Indian peoples but its Burmese language which we Burmese used for thousands of years.
    Some journalists wrote Kalar as derogating term for Muslim and Indian which mean “Black” a word derived from Sanskrit.
    These peoples really do not understand about Burmese history and language. Taungoo and Konbaung eras Burmese peoples call English as Kalar Phyu which mean White Kalar and Kalar Mei for Indian which mean Dark Kalar in Burmese history. Kalar is derogatory term for Muslim and Indian is totally rubbish.
    Kalar is derived from Burmese word “Kular” which mean someone who comes from outside or other side.

    By the way, I believe Burmese Government doing census is nothing to do with recognizing ethnic identity as Burmese or Citizenship identity. Census is about how many peoples living in Burma, what Language speaking other than Burmese language at home, Place of birth and other a few things. Government should not be surprised if some of peoples fabricate their personal detail.

    “There should be no discrimination, and the government has a duty to give citizenship to its Muslims. We should have the choice to be Rohingya.”

    Well, you can not accuse Government was discriminating against Bengali Muslim because Government does not give citizenship to them. To give citizenship to illegal migrant is immigration and national border security matter. Government can not give citizenship to all illegal migrants like Water Festival Sticky Rice Balls (Moth-Lone-Yepaw). If the person was qualified for naturalized citizenship and then Government will consider for him when he or she applied for citizenship. Someone who does not qualify for naturalize citizenship and then that person should be going back to where he or she belong.

    In the past, some Bengali migrants have illegally bought Citizenship from corrupted Burmese Immigration Officers in Rakhine state and moved to other city like Rangoon and Moulmein. I hope that time is passed now. We must have respected our brother and sisters Rakhine peoples’ wishes.

  5. Since Rohingya is an issue with Muslims party in Myanmar, I honor it to keep and solve with the government.

    Now, what about whole Muslims in Myanmar. All those Muslims in Burma ( Myanmar ) are to be called ” Bama Muslims OR Myanmar Muslims ” which was adopted at the time of pre- independence. General Aung San has given rights to choose for the Muslims Identity at the time of pre-independence, the then Bama Muslim Congress ( Ba Ma Ka ) leader Sayagyi U Razak had choosen the identity as ” Bama Muslim ” so to day we can not change this word just because of conflict of ideas, as it is standing lawfully to day.

    Two Muslim leaders were killed along with General Aung San, how can we easily forget this issue which has to stand till the domes day. Our Muslims blood is with the Burmese Independence.

    Therefore all Muslims in Burma are to be called ” Bama Muslim. ” Those Muslims staying within the ethnics area are to be called such as ” Arakanese Muslims, Shan Muslims, Karen Muslims, Kachin Muslims, Kaya Muslims, Mon Muslims, Pan They Muslims and so on. The law is still standing for Muslims of Burma ( Myanmar. ) So during the census collecting time all Citizen of Burmese Muslims are to be stated ” BAMA MUSLIM ” irrespective of race & ethnicity.

    Myanmar have always been referred to BAMA MUSLIM when religion was referred to, other than that just BAMA or YAKHINE..etc.

    What makes Mg Kyaw Min raise (ROHINGYA) a bargaining point,very much a KALAR habit.

  7. When Burmese Govt. allowed to broadcast the program in Rohingya language from Govt. BBS broadcasting station, there were no objections from any corners. They were accepted by a genuinely and democratically elected Government of Burma not like the current one or Ne Win’s one. But to humiliate and to oppress some people just for the difference of their religions and appearances is totally inhuman and injustice. If someone look a little bit history of Arkan state, one can see whether there were Muslims in Rakhine King palace or whether King Shuja his followers were allowed to stay in Arakan state or Rakhine kings got help from Muslims king to get their throne back . Then what about all their descendent. Were those all killed by Rakhine extremists. What about Chinese who swallowed top part of the Burma?. No problem – they are Buddhist, and their appearance are same.

    • It was U Nu’s government who was so eager to promote the product for winning votes for his own party. He did never ask any referendum for doing that. He is till today considered as one of the worst autocrats in democracy guise and racists who ever ruled Burma.

  8. Mg Kyaw Min where were you in the 50’s when the Mujahid’s (Rohingyas/Bengali Muslims) were fighting in Arakan to secede from the Union and join Pakistan – KITH & KIN IS BLOOD RELATIONS, are muslims in Arakan KITH & KIN with Yakhine/Bama or with KALAR (PAKISTANI/BANGLADESHI)and if so what is the relationship with all Muslims in Myanmar ARE THEY KITH & KIN WITH ETHNIC MYANMAR (BAMAR/YAKHINE/SHAN/MON/KAREN/KACHIN/CHIN) BY BLOOD OR NOT.


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