News / Asia

Burma's Rohingya Face Census Dilemma

Burma's Rohingya Face Census Dilemmai
X
March 28, 2014 1:37 PM
Burma is conducting its first census in more than three decades, at a time when ethnic and religious tensions are high. Census workers are expected to record each person’s race and religion, which pose problems for ethnic Rohingya Muslims who are not recognized as Burmese citizens. Gabrielle Paluch reports.
Gabrielle Paluch
Burma, also known as Myanmar, is conducting its first census in more than three decades, at a time when ethnic and religious tensions are high. Census workers are expected to record each person’s race and religion, which pose problems for ethnic Rohingya Muslims who are not recognized as Burmese citizens.
 
Burma's government does not officially recognize some ethnic groups that have long lived within its borders. But the upcoming census requires they be counted under one of the country’s officially recognized ethnicities.
 
Stateless ethnic Rohingya Muslims, most of whom are living in conflict-stricken Rakhine state, are among those who will have to identify as "other," and write in their ethnicity.
  ​
Population Minister Khin Yi suggests that those who write in “Rohingya” could face prosecution for providing misinformation. He refers to the Rohingya as Bengali, reflecting government policy that considers them foreigners from Bangladesh. He does not expect problems in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine.

"We did not do a test census in Sittwe, in Rakhine state because at the time there was a conflict between the two communities," he said. "We have since discussed with the two communities, Rakhine and Bengali, and they accept the census process, because the census process is all inclusive. Those who don't participate will lose their chance."

Observers worry that the ethnic and religious identification questions could worsen ostracism of some communities.  But U.N. technical advisors say it is too late and too expensive to change the questionnaire.

In the lead up to the census, the extremist anti-Muslim monk Wirathu has delivered well-attended speeches in Rakhine state about protecting race and religion, and has led protests advocating a census boycott.
 
Here, Wirathu is accusing Muslims of targeting monks, and terrorizing good people. He says authorities should kick out international aid groups that help Muslims. He also says Muslims should be denied citizenship and marriage rights.
 
Many fear identifying as Rohingya will threaten their potential citizenship eligibility, but not identifying as Rohingya will leave their community underrepresented.
 
Zaw Aye is a minister for Rakhine Nationalities affairs, who is concerned about ongoing violence in his hometown. He says the situation will improve if people stop identifying themselves as Rohingya.
 
"Putting the name of a people that don't exist will cause violence," he said. "But if they're counted as Bengalis, there won't be any problems."
 
Kyaw Min is a Rohingya politician who says many fear identifying as Rohingya will threaten their legal status, but not identifying as Rohingya will leave their community underrepresented.
 
" I am Rohingya, I will enlist as Rohingya, I think the enumerators will also write me in as Rohingya, because they have the duty according to census law.," said Min. "Claiming an ethnicity is not the question of violence. Who will initiate the violence, it is the question."
 
Burma’s nationwide census begins at the end of this month

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Suleman from: kolkata india
March 30, 2014 2:30 PM
those people that call themselves Buddhist and kill poor muslin Rohyngy
are not what they stand for Do they know Ahimsa ?
Preachings of Buddha ?They are killers !


by: than shwe from: Naypyithaw
March 27, 2014 3:40 PM
Burma must accept and give rohingya nationality.

In Response

by: Richard from: US
March 27, 2014 10:37 PM
Those people calling themselves Rohingya or whatever are having a family of at least twenty children for "every single family".
(taking four wives and breeding twenty children in every family to dominate Rakhine state)
They are the problem originated from Bangladesh. Bangladeshi Govt is fully responsible for it. And yet the prime minister said her Bangladesh is already an over populated country and they cannot take care of them. This is the problem floating in the international sea affecting not just Burma but through the bay of Bengal to Thailand, Indonesia and all the way down to Australia.
Consider this, you live alone at a house and you are kind enough to let a homeless couple to come stay your house for free. A decade later, the couple have had twenty children and demanding you leave the house because they claim they are such-and-such family and the house historically belongs to the family. How does it make you feel?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid