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No need to change law on Rohingya citizenship: Myanmar panel

 Photo Eleven media

April 29, 2013
Myanmar’s 1982 citizenship law that made a
Muslim ethnic minority stateless does not need to be amended, but should be
applied fairly, a commission set up to assess last year’s sectarian violence in
the Rakhine State said Monday.
Fighting that broke out between Buddhist and
Rohingya communities in the state killed at least 192 and left about 1,25,000
homeless.
The government-appointed commission called
for improved law enforcement,protection of human rights and a ban on
“hate language” and “extremist teachings.” It stopped short of recommending an
amendment to the law that many claim is at the heart of the problem.
“International organizations are trying to
criticize the 1982 citizenship law regarding the Bengalis but the law is very
suitable for us,” commission member Yin Yin Nwe said.
“But the enforcement of the law is not clear
because of the corruption of the local immigration officials,” he added.
The law classified eight races and more than
130 ethnic minority groups which could qualify as Myanmar nationals, but
excluded the Rohingyas from the list.
The latter insist they are a separate ethnic
minority whose ancestors have lived in the country for generations. The
government views the Rohingya as Bengali migrants who were brought to the
western state by the British colonialists as farmers.
The commission pointedly referred to the
Rohingyas as Bengalis.
“It was not because of government pressure,”
commission member Kyaw Yin Hlaing said . “Our intention is to bring about
reconciliation and if we use Rohingya, we can’t achieve that goal because of
the high emotions of the people, not only in the Rakhine but also in the other
parts of the country.” Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, in which
Muslims are a small minority.
Much of the violence against the Rohingyas,
along with attacks last month against Muslims in central Myanmar, was allegedly
orchestrated by militant Buddhist groups.
“The government needs to ban the use of hate
language against any religion,” the commission’s report said. “In particular,
it needs to ban extremist teachings and activities