Govt Spokesman Rejects Calls for Rohingya Citizenship

By The Irrawaddy 23 November 2015

RANGOON — A spokesperson for President Thein Sein took to social media on Saturday to reject recommendations that Rohingya Muslims be granted a path to citizenship.

“Our government’s stance is that we wholly reject use of the term ‘Rohingya’. We will grant citizenship rights to Bengali people who have stayed within the boundary of Rakhine [Arakan] State based on the 1982 Citizenship Law,” read a Facebook post shared by Minister of Information Ye Htut, using the government’s preferred term to refer to the stateless minority.

“We will not grant the right of citizenship if it is not suitable to the 1982 law, even when there is pressure on us. This is our own sovereign power. There are laws in America and Britain and other Western countries about the right to grant citizenship. If it is not suitable to the rule of law in their countries, they do not grant citizenship.”

The minister’s comments were made in the wake of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review, a comprehensive human rights examination comprising recommendations from foreign governments, rights groups and civil society.

The Burmese government rejected more than half of the review’s 281 recommendations, including all those related to restoring civil and political rights to the country’s stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, estimated to be 1.1 million people overwhelmingly concentrated in northern Arakan State.