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Groups press Myanmar on citizenship

Rights campaigners urge change to law barring Rohingyas

  • Mike MacLachlan, London
  • United Kingdom
  • July 10, 2012
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Thirty-one campaign groups around the world have urged the Myanmar government to change the law banning Muslim Rohingyas from citizenship.

The Citizenship Law “arbitrarily stripped many people of the right to citizenship,” the campaigners said in a joint statement released yesterday.

The law, introduced by General Ne Win in 1982, is “not compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or with [Myanmar’s] legal obligations under international treaties,” the statement said.

It should be “replaced with a new law founded on basic principles of human rights [which] should honor equality and non-discrimination and help create an inclusive and tolerant Burma.”

The citizenship issue is one of the many factors fueling recent violence between the Buddhist Rakhine people and the Rohingyas in Arakan state, say the campaign organisations, which range from Scandinavia and Switzerland to Japan, the United States, South Africa and Australia.

They include indigenous groups such as the Chin Human Rights Organization, international ones such as the International Federation for Human Rights and Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Asian organisations, among them the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development and the Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition.

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