Subject: Prohibition on the Marriages between Rohingyas and Bangladeshis violates the Obligations of Bangladeshi Government under International Human Rights Law and Norm
To: Embassy of the People's Republic of Bangladesh in Jakarta Indonesia
Jl. Karang Asem Utara Blok C4 No.12, Jakarta Selatan 12950
Phone: +62 21 5262173
Fax: +62 21 5262174
Dear Mr. Md. Nazmul Quaunine – Honorable Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh,
On behalf of the Commission of the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) – a human rights organization in Indonesia – we deplore the announcement launch by Bangladesh Law Minister Syed Anisul Haque on Thursday (07/10/2014) that the country would cease officiating marriages for Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority group that has been displaced from Myanmar due to persecution. We strongly believe, the right of two adult persons to marry each other is recognized by all international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights and the prohibition on the marriages between Rohingyas and Bangladeshis is certainly an unconstitutional restriction and discrimination against the right to life.
There are roughly 300,000 Rohingyas living in Bangladesh, though the country recognizes only about 30,000 who are eligible for food, housing, and other basic aid provided by the U.N. Until today, they live under open sky, with no support from the United Nations or the Bangladeshi government. People of Rohingya are dying every day, due to lack of food, treatment, and education. They are currently living in life you cannot ever imagine.
Although the Rohingya say they originally come from western Myanmar, Buddhist extremists say they immigrated illegally from Bangladesh in the 1800s with British imperial troops. Bangladesh border guards regularly intercept Rohingyas attempting to cross the Myanmar border, though on either side Rohingyas risk discrimination, poor living conditions, and even human trafficking.
Yesterday, a new lifestyle restriction for Rohingya is coming through the announcement from Bangladesh Law Minister Syed Anisul Haque who has been ordered not to formalize the marriages between Bangladeshi and Rohingya citizens, as well as not recognize marriages between ethnic Rohingya who are currently displaced in Bangladesh. The reason to ban Rohingya-Bangladeshi marriage is because the government of Bangladesh wants to prevent Rohingya people’s trying to use marriage certificate to obtain a passport and other Bangladeshi state documents. Because, by marrying Bangladeshi, Rohingya will automatically get the citizenship of Bangladesh. Government of Bangladesh will impose sanctions for the marriage registrar who inaugurated the Rohingya marriage.
This attitude carried out by the government of Bangladesh has violated few international human rights treaties which Bangladesh already ratified and even accessed. They are:
1. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
2. The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized.
3. No marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
4. States Parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children.
- Article 5 of International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD):
“States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights, including the right to marriage and choice of spouse.”
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW):
- Article 9 Point 1:“States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality. They shall ensure in particular that neither marriage to an alien nor change of nationality by the husband during marriage shall automatically change the nationality of the wife, render her stateless or force upon her the nationality of the husband.”
- Article 16 Point 1: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women: (a) The same right to enter into marriage; (b) The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent; (c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution...”
Through this letter, we would like to urge the Government of Bangladesh to cancel the prohibition on the marriages between Rohingyas and Bangladeshis, to stop and realize that form of discrimination against Rohingyas as happened above is very disappointing and contributed to the resignation of efforts towards democracy – especially in this case, considering the position of Bangladesh as one of the leading country in South Asia as well as a member of United Nations that should prioritize the promotion of human rights and democracy in the country rather than making it backward.
Jakarta, July 11th 2014
Executive Coordinator of KontraS
*For further information please contact Ms.Ninies (email@example.com) or through KontraS Secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org)