US Says Burma Should Draft New Plan to Give Rohingya Citizenship

US President Barack Obama attends the 2nd Asean-US Summit in Naypyidaw on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

US President Barack Obama attends the 2nd Asean-US Summit in Naypyidaw on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

NAYPYITAW — The United States on Thursday urged Burma to draft a new plan to allow the ethnic Rohingya minority to become citizens and to scrap a proposed plan to send them to detention camps if they refuse to identify themselves as Bengalis.

Most of Burma’s 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions in Arakan State on the west coast of the predominantly Buddhist country. Almost 140,000 are displaced after deadly clashes with ethnic Arakanese Buddhists in 2012.

The Rakhine [Arakan] State Action Plan will require Rohingya to identify themselves as Bengali—a term most reject because it implies they are immigrants from Bangladesh despite having lived in Burma for generations— in order to possibly receive citizenship.

According to a draft of the plan obtained by Reuters in September, the government has proposed that authorities “construct temporary camps in required numbers for those who refuse to be registered and those without adequate documents.”

The plan violates “universal rights” and challenges Burma’s reform efforts, said US deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes.

“We would like to see a new plan that will allow the Rohingya to become citizens through a normal process without having to do that type of self-identification,” he told reporters in Burma’s capital, Naypyidaw, where US President Barack Obama is meeting with leaders at a regional summit.

Obama will travel to Burma’s largest city, Rangoon, on Friday to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her home where she spent more than 15 years under house arrest, because of her public resistance of the former military junta.

Suu Kyi, who became an international icon for democracy after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been notably quiet on the plight of the Rohingya.

Rhodes urged her to speak out.

“Her voice is obviously critically important,” he said.

Burma emerged from 49 years of military rule when a semi-civilian government took power and initiated sweeping reforms, including releasing political prisoners and lifting restrictions on the media.

But Obama told local news website and magazine The Irrawaddy in an interview published Wednesday that Burma is “backsliding” on reforms, citing issues including a crackdown on journalists and the treatment of the Rohingya.

11 Responses to US Says Burma Should Draft New Plan to Give Rohingya Citizenship

  1. Obama can declare all illegal Mexicans as US citizens before Burma does this. America has no rights to demand something nonexistent in Burma. Burma after all is not the 51st state of the US. The brazen demand only shows the bullying mentality of the US, and Obama suffering from megalomania.

  2. why not Myanmar wait and see what the US law is to be on the Latinos, at the moment it is much like the proverbial POT CALLING KETTLE BLACK.
    Obama appears to be in no position to lead the world, with the Republicans sniping – can he really sign and or promise anything.

  3. Heartiest congrats to The President Obama for his unqualified support of the World’s most persecuted underdogs – The Rohingya/s – in their plight to receive such recognition and support.

    May God Almighty bless the President & the United States of America.

  4. It will happen when the US gives citizenship to illegal Latinos and the Chinese who are hiding in the kitchens for decades in America. I know there are hundreds of thousands of Chinese who work in the kitchens of the Chinese restaurants in America due to illegal status. Many Chinese women got bailed out from immigration detention centers by wealthy Chinese but they never show up in the courts for hearings. They disappear in cities working as prostitutes for the ones who bailed them out. If US is doing something for these exploited women and men, Myanmar may learn how to help these illegal Bengali immigrants too.

  5. Why I don’t see this article in Burmese version of Irrawaddy? “US Says Burma Should Draft New Plan to Give Rohingya Citizenship”

  6. ကမၻာက ရုိဟင္ဂ်ာ ေတြကိုအသိအမွတ္ျပဳလို ့ရခီးေတြနဲ႕အာဏာရွင္ေဟာင္းေတြ အိပ္မဝင္ စားမေပ်ာ္ျဖစ္ေနပါျပီးလား

  7. Added Note: re: DASSK’s notable silence on Rohingya issues; she once said that people are complaining because they do not hear what they wanted to hear from her. Whether anybody agrees with her explanation or not, we all must get used to this situation.

    Of course, as a grassroots and community activists, we all like to have, from time to time, making use of the ‘star-powers’. Indeed, when the famous and influentials start talking, things seem to go a lot further. Daw Suu does have the star-powers. That’s why we’ve got asking Daw Suu please do this or NLD please do that. But, sadly, the star won’t shine on Rohingyas, or so it seems. — U Ne Oo

  8. 1982 citizenship law is not in line with present constitution so it is illegal to take action over Rohingya ( also call Arakanese Muslims or Rakhine Muslims since 1948 soon after Burmese Independence ). Rohingya terms was given to them the first prime Minister of Burma U Nu and Brig.general Aung Gyi the then Burma Army second in command; by that time why Army Chief Ne Win keep quite. Are they not Bama leaders? Please think hundred times when you point a finger to other and at the same time three fingers are pointing you.

  9. Enough is enough please stop style of lobbying This Rohingya issue is very ( very ) simple. the trick of white card also a just mockery. Not good, treat them properly to become community of the world, otherwise Myanmar or Burma or Burma or Myanmar be laughing stock in front of international community as well as Asean nations so it is bad.

  10. The authority do not want to give political rights to Muslims through out Burma ( Myanmar ). That is why they are destroying religious buildings every where.

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