To resolve crisis Myanmar should change their laws

    Bangladesh now gave shelter 1.1 million Rohingyas who were fled from Myanmar for persecution. In 1978, 1991-1992, 2012, 2016 and 2017 they were subject to persecution by Myanmar authority. Their homes were burnt; their family members were brutally killed and raped. Their citizenship scraped by discriminatory law named Citizenship Law, 1982.

    They are now treated most persecuted ethnic community in the modern world.

    To repatriate Rohingya to Myanmar, Bangladesh-Myanmar signed an agreement. After a long discussion, Myanmar agrees to repatriate Rohingyas and the first attempt was 15 November 2018. But that attempted failed due to the unwillingness of Rohingyas to back.

    After a long discussion between Naypyidaw-Dhaka and scrutiny, Myanmar agrees to take back 3540 Rohingyas on 22 August 2019. To repatriate them, Bangladesh authority had taken all types of initiatives. But second times of this attempt also failed.

    But why Rohingyas are not interested to back their homeland?

    According to the Rohingyas, they want full citizenship which is systematically cut down by Myanmar. In 1982 Myanmar authority enacted a new Citizenship Law. This law allows 135 ethnic groups will be the national of Myanmar. Ethnic indo-origin Rohingyas are excluded from those groups.

    According to the law ‘Nationals such as the Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Burman, Mon, Rakhine or Shan and ethnic groups as have settled in any of the territories include within the State as their permanent home from a period prior to 1185 B.E., 1823 A.D. are Burma citizens.’

    This discriminatory law still now criticized from rights groups and other international community and organizations. But till now Myanmar authority not take any initiative to amend this discriminatory law.

    In 2016, Kofi Annan commission established to overview the Rakhine situation. 1-year letter Annan commission published their report with recommendations.

    Myanmar authority’s activities were criticized by this commission regarding citizenship law. Annan commission told, for this law tension has been raised between communities. This commission also observed that “Several aspects of the 1982 Citizenship Law are not in compliance with international standards and norms – such as the principle of non-discrimination under international law – as well as international treaties signed by Myanmar. Most notably, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – ratified by Myanmar – requires states to respect, protect and fulfill the right of every child to acquire a nationality “in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.”

    So this commission recommends:

    “While recognizing that the 1982 law is the current basis for citizenship, the Commission recommends the Government set in motion a process to review the law. As part of such a review, the Government might wish to consider the following:

    • Aligning the law with international standards and treaties to which Myanmar is a State Party, including Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
    • Bringing the legislation into line with best practices, including the abolition of distinctions between different types of citizens;

    Till now Myanmar authorities not interested to review or amend this controversial law.

    Besides that, Rohingyas want security and get their properties which are they lost. Burma is telling the world that it is trying its best to make the situation for the Rohingya safe so that we can return to our homes.

    But if we see the report of International Cyber Policy center, they said; “no evidence of widespread preparation for Rohingya refugees to return to safe and dignified return.”

    According to their research, “we have documented at least 58 remaining settlements that have been burned, partially destroyed or demolished in Northern Rakhine State throughout 2018. Further satellite evidence shows continuing demolition in 2019.”

    “The Vacant, Fallow and Virgin land Management Laws was amended in 2018. Owners of land as designated as vacant, fallow or virgin including land in Rakhine were given six months to apply for land ownership permits. The deadline was 11 March 2019. “

    This law also criticized by international community and rights groups. According to this law, most of the classified VFV lands are in the ethnic rural area and millions of ethnic community and farmers will be affected. By this law, people should apply for 30 years of concessions to use their own lands. If they fail land will be awarded to companies. If anyone fails to comply with this law, they will be treated as a trespasser and could be imprisoned for 2 years and evicted from their land. Who are displaced for persecution also fails to comply with this law.

    This application process will be tough for Rohingyas. Because of most of them now in Bangladesh for persecution and others not able to move all over Myanmar. It means without permission they not get back their lands, if they back without permission they will be penalized.

    In this Rohingyas persecution women, children even men also raped by Myanmar army and other security forces which is proved by Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. This commission also recommends to Myanmar Government should;

    “Undertake the necessary legislative reform to protect people of all genders, including children of all ethnic groups, including Rohingya, from sexual and gender-based violence, including by:

    (a)   amending the Constitution to remove provisions that grant government officials, including military and security personnel, immunity from prosecution for human rights violations and to establish civilian jurisdiction over human rights violations, including by military and security personnel;

    (b)   amending the Penal Code of 1861 to adopt a definition of violence against women, including rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, in accordance with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and international standards;

    (c)    amending the Penal Code of 1861 to criminalise sexual and gender-based violence against men and criminalise male rape;

    (d)   ensuring civilian courts have jurisdiction over the military for sexual and gender-based violence against women, men, and children;

    (e)    enacting promptly the Prevention and Protection of Violence against Women Law (PoVAW) and ensuring that it fully complies with international standards, covers conflict-related sexual violence, provides adequate protection and support to victims and witnesses of sexual violence, and establishes civilian jurisdiction over these crimes, including when perpetrated by military or other security personnel;

    (f)    effectively criminalize in domestic law serious crimes under international law, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as conflict-related sexual violence, with civilian jurisdiction over these crimes”.


    Borhanul Ashekin


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