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Kofi Annan’s visit and the NVC card controversy

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

The racist and bigots in Myanmar are upset that Suu Kyi has appointed former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to resolve the problem of forced statelessness of the Rohingya people who are the descendants of the first settlers to the territory of Arakan (now called Rakhine state). They are venting their anger against Kofi Annan. They want him to leave and leave the mess intact caused by their genocidal activities that have killed tens of thousands of Rohingyas, let alone the internal displacement of nearly a quarter million of them and forced exodus of tens of thousands. As the very perpetrators of the serious crimes they are, naturally, against any solution to the decades old problem. Such hostilities against Mr. Annan should not discourage the veteran diplomat to leave his mission, but rather strengthen his resolve to do what is right so that peace can come to this territory and Rohingya people are given citizenship rights.

The Myanmar government in recent months have been issuing some controversial cards to the stateless Rohingya. Many Rohingyas fear that the latest attempt is to wipe out historicity of their existence to the soil of Arakan in western Myanmar. Already their decades- and century-old documents have been confiscated by the previous governments – all such activities to delegitimize the historical existence of the Rohingya. So, naturally, they are perturbed by the latest issuance of the NVC cards.

National Islamic Organization of Myanmar urged their community not to decide hasty to accept documents that lead to wipe out their historic existence, after reports came out that the government is on the verge of implementation of this process targeting Muslims in mainland Myanmar.

In a statement issued on Friday, organization reminded that “Instead of issuing national registration cards (that grant fully citizenship) to Muslims community in mainland Myanmar, we found out that immigration officers are campaigning to issue Identity Card for National Verification (NVC or green card) in some Muslim majority wards and township in recent months”
According to Myanmar’s controversial 1982 citizenship law, there are three categories of citizens – citizen, associate citizen and naturalized citizen. NVC card are designed to issue for some residents who are in the state of suspicion to identify their class of citizen or who are lack of relevant documents essential to submit in applying citizenship.

Immigration department tried to issue this NVC card for Rohingya Muslims who reside conflict-ridden western part of the country. But Rohingya community refused to hold the cards.

Authorities now turn their eyes to mainland Myanmar. Last week, officials from immigration department explained the process of issuing NVC card in some Muslim villages in central Mandalay Division and urge to accept it without making any due citizenship verification process. But Muslim villagers were not interested in taking these cards that will not be able to grant them as full citizens noting they have sound history of participation in nation’s society. Ministry also plans to implement this process in other parts of the country.

National Islamic Organization of Myanmar warned their community that to wait until their discussion with relevant ministry is completed.

“We, National Islamic Organization of Myanmar, are going to discuss this matter of issuing NVC Card with relevant ministry and we kindly inform you to wait until outcomes of this effort are come out.”

Under systematic plan of discrimination that started during the decades of military junta rule, Myanmar Muslims have been removed from the country’s official ethnic list before denying to hold national registration card that grant full citizenship. Now, immigration department are trying to shape Muslim community as stateless or foreigners or illegal immigrants by issuing NVC card although Muslims have been playing in major role in country history.