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

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid