Arakan Muslims denied ID cards

Feb 5, 2008 (DVB)-Muslims in Arakan state who applied for identity cards in August 2007 have still not received them, even though people of other religions had their cards issued within a week.

The immigration department in Sandoway, Arakan state, opened registration for new identity cards in August last year, but applications from Muslims were submitted to higher levels of government for approval, Sandoway residents said.

One Muslim resident of Sandoway asked the immigration department why his application had still not been processed.

"The immigration official said our ID registration application had to go through lots of different staff at the district and state level, and then to Naypyidaw for approval, so that was why it has taken so long," the resident said.

Sandoway immigration department was unavailable for comment.

Without identity cards, Muslims are unable to travel freely unless they get special dispensation before they travel.

Muslims travelling without ID cards can be arrested by officials at checkpoints and charged for not having the correct papers.

A student from Kyauk Khyu township who travelled down to Rangoon for his schooling was arrested because he did not have an ID card and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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