Feb 29, 2008 (DVB), Local authorities in Tachilek township have been urging residents to apply for identity cards in the run-up to the May referendum, but residents have faced difficulties obtaining the cards.
Local officials went round the township on Tuesday telling residents that those who have never had identity cards, or who did not update them when they turned 18, should register for new cards as soon as possible.
People in Burma are required to register for an identity card at the age of 12, which should then be replaced with an adult card when they reach 18 years of age, and updated again at the age of 30.
In the upcoming national referendum, people will need an up-to-date adult identity card to show they are over 18 and eligible to vote.
A local resident said they were told the registration period would only run until the end of April.
"They said that those who did not get an ID card at the age of 18, or have still got their ID cards from when they were 12 years old, can now apply for a new card," the resident said.
But when the locals went to the immigration office to fill in the forms as instructed by the officials, they found that the offices were empty.
"Acting on their advice, we went to the immigration office, and we found that all 12 immigration officials who usually work in the office were not there because they were in town making these announcements," the resident said.
"So there was no one to accept our registration applications."
Residents of Chan Aye Tharyar ward Meikhtila district, Mandalay division, complained that they had been turned away from the immigration department when they went to apply for new identity cards.
One local who went to apply for a new card when registration opened on Tuesday said that lots of people were waiting in the immigration office to get their new cards.
"They said they would not issue ID cards for people who already have them, only for those who have never had one," he said.
Mandalay residents have also complained that high school students are being forced to join the Union Solidarity and Development Association and the Myanmar Women's Affairs Federation, according to a girl student from Mandalay Basic Education High School (8).
Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew