Press statement of Rohingya American Society (RAS), 22 Sept
We, the leadership and members of the Rohingya American Society (RAS) strongly
condemn the forced Bengalization attempt of President Thein sein Government to
helpless Rohingya native of the soil of Arakan (Rakhine-prey) through the immigration
process enforcing the discriminatory 1982 Myanmar citizenship law which made the
Rohingyas stateless in their own homeland.
In this context, we would like to reiterate that the 1982 Myanmar (Burma) citizenship
law adopted in October 1982 by the previous Burmese Govt. led by the late General Ne
Win is not related with the national status checking of the Rohingya Muslims of Arakan
who are already citizens by birth and according to the 1947 Constitution, 1947 Burmese
Residence and Registration Act, 1948 Burmese Citizenship law, and 1974 Burmese
Constitution as well as per the 1948 Burma Independence Declaration according to the
In fact this 1982 Myanmar (Burma) Citizenship law is concerned with the suspected
foreigners and immigrants whose citizenship status needed to be scrutinized in Arakan
such as those two hundred and fifty thousand RAKHINE (MOGS) Bangladeshi
citizens who were born and brought up in neighboring Bangladesh and citizens of that
country by birth, who entered into Arakan illegally and staying without the knowledge
of Myanmar government and its central immigration organ functioning by the Rakhine
ruling elite group.
The truth is that Rohingyas known as Mohammedan in accordance with British
Census in 1826, 1872, 1911 and 1944 are already indigenous Myanmar citizens
according to the Article No-3 and 6 of 1982 Myanmar citizenship law. So, enforcing and
implementing the 1982 Myanmar citizenship law against the native Rohingya people
forcing them to identify as Bengali is a matter of great concern to the world and UN.
This 1982 Myanmar citizenship law was intentionally created and approved by the Govt.
of Myanmar (Burma) to exclude the Rohingya people from Myanmar citizenship rights.
The effect of the Myanmar Citizenship Law 1982 is to make it almost impossible for the
Rohingya people to gain citizenship. This violates the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and international norms prohibiting
discrimination of racial and religious minorities. The legal and practical constraints
imposed by the Myanmar Citizenship Law 1982 render it "almost impossible" for the
Rohingya people to be recognized as citizens of Myanmar. In fact that the Rohingyas
are effectively excluded from citizenship is a clear violation of international human
rights law. It is a fundamental principle that "everyone has the right to a nationality. This
principle is especially important in relation to the children.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides in terms that every child "shall
have from birth...the right to acquire a nationality". As a party to that Convention,
Burma is obliged to "ensure the implementation" of every child's right to acquire a
nationality. Since it is almost impossible for a Rohingya, and in particular a Rohingya
child, to acquire Burmese citizenship, the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law violates the
fundamental right to a nationality.
Moreover, since the Rohingya have no other nationality, the effect of the 1982 Myanmar
Citizenship Law is to render them stateless. This is significant because Burma is
specifically obliged to ensure a child's right to acquire a nationality "where the child
would otherwise be stateless".
Moreover, it runs contrary to many other international instruments which aim to limit
statelessness. The 1982 Citizenship Law also violates international norms against
discrimination. Ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 it has
been recognized as a fundamental principle that "everyone is entitled to all the rights
and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race
and religion". This principle has been repeated consistently in international Conventions.
The rights of children, including the right to acquire nationality, must also be respected
"without discrimination of any kind.
So, we sincerely urge and strongly demand the President Thein Sein Government
to immediately stop undemocratic process of forced Bengalization of Rohingya'
immigration process in any forms using the policy of stick and carrot to helpless
We earnestly recommend the GOM (Government of Myanmar) to restore the
Rohingyas' citizenship rights disregarding 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law and
dismantle the IDP camps allowing all Rohingyas to return to their original own places
with full compensation and reconstruction of their villages, houses, religious school
and places of worship (mosques) burnt and destroyed by Rakhine mob with the help of
Burmese security forces.
We also urge the world Governments including USA, EU, ASEAN, OIC and United
Nations to put strong pressure to Myanmar current government to cease all forms of
human rights violation against the ethnic Rohingya people and restore their fundamental
and citizenship rights in Myanmar to make the country a better place for all people of
Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (aka) MSK Jilani
On behalf of the Executive Committee Members
Rohingya American Society (RAS)
Note: Rohingya American Society (RAS) is a formerly known as "The
Burmese Rohingya American Friendship Association (BRAFA)."