Press Release
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No                   :
Subject           : Government of Myanmar Have to Stop the Unlawful Registration of Rohingya’s Citizenship

To: H.E. Amb. Min Lwin
Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to ASEAN
Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and Permanent
Mission of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to ASEAN
No. 109 Jl. Haji Agus Salim, Menteng,
Jakarta Pusat Indonesia
Tel: (62-21) 3158908, 3159095
Fax: (62-21)390 7826


Dear Excellencies,

The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) – a human rights non-governmental organization based in Jakarta – strongly condemned the attitude of Myanmar authorities who sealed off villages in Myanmar’s only Muslim-majority region. Since mid-September, authorities started setting up police checkpoints outside the villages and preventing people from leaving even to shop for food in local markets, work in surrounding paddies or bring children to school. In some cases the Government committed violence, such as beat and arbitrary arrest people who refused to register with immigration officials. So far, it is the most aggressive effort yet to force Rohingya to indicate they are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

We also condemn the act of Immigration Officials, border guards and members of the illegal-alien task force in the northern tip of Rakhine state — home to 90 percent of the country’s 1.3 million Rohingya — who said they were simply updating family lists, as they have in the past and in addition to questions about marriages, deaths and births, people were classified by ethnicity. It clearly shows how the government of Myanmar denies the existence of Rohingya in the country, by saying those who claim the ethnicity are actually Bengalis.

Furthermore, Myanmar recently confirmed to the United Nations that the Government of Myanmar is now on the verge of completing a plan that would grant Rohingya Muslims citizenship if they change their ethnicity to suggest Bangladeshi origin. Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin told that his government has started a "verification process" to enable the mostly stateless minority who has been in Myanmar for many generations to become naturalized citizens. But he says the government is still not recognizing the Rohingya as a group.

In this regard, the Government’s policy on Rohingya’ citizenship means that Myanmar Government is blatantly implementing the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law that has kept the Rohingya stateless for decades; an arbitrary and opaque citizenship 'assessment' process; and the very likely prospect that most of the over 130,000 Rohingya ensnared in this plan will face years of indefinite detention in locked down, crowded and squalid camps for displaced persons. And for the Rohingya to enter the so-called citizenship verification process, they will be first forced to repudiate their ethnic identity in what is a clear violation of their rights. Put simply, Rohingya can only apply for citizenship under this plan if they agree to adopt the "Bengali" label that they have resisted for years because it connotes that they are coming from outside Myanmar rather than being persons born in the country.

This plan both expands and solidifies the discriminatory and abusive government policies that underpin the decades-long persecution of the Rohingya. To be frank, the plan is a blueprint for permanent segregation and statelessness that appears designed to strip the Rohingya of any remnants of hope that they had for returning to a situation like that before the 2012 violence, when Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists were able to co-exist. Under the plan, those Rohingya who refuse to comply with the government's orders to accept the "Bengali" label will be deemed uncooperative and automatically be sent to permanent resettlement camps with little likelihood of release.

We believe that the actions carried out by the Government of Myanmar have blatantly violated international obligations comprised in the Declaration that Myanmar has acceded. They are:

  • Article 4 Point 1 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

“ In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, color, sex, language, religion or social origin. “

  • Article 24 Point 1 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

“ Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State. “

  • Article 26 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. “

  • Article 1 of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

“ The term "discrimination against women" shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

  • Article 2 of Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

“ States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. “

“ States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members. “

Discrimination practiced by the Government of Myanmar against Rohingya also not appropriate with the agreement of Myanmar stated in its position as the ASEAN countries. As seen on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), mentioned that ASEAN member states should always uphold the principles of impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity, non-discrimination, non-confrontation and avoidance of double standards and politicization in the realization of the human rights and freedoms contained in this declaration.

We urge all the recipients of this letter to urge the Government of Myanmar to stop and realized that all forms of discrimination and intimidation imposed on Rohingya are disappointing and contributed to the back pedaling towards democracy – especially in this case, considering the position of Myanmar as ASEAN chair that should abide international obligations and assure the restoration of a democratic government based on human rights.


Jakarta, October 14, 2014


Haris Azhar
Executive Coordinator of KontraS

*For further information please contact Ms.Ninies ( or through KontraS Secretariat (