Members of the Arakan National Party (ANP) on Sunday staged a protest in Sittwe against an immigration official whom they allege granted Burmese citizenship to an ineligible Rohingya woman.
Speaking from the rally site in Arakanese state capital Sittwe, ANP General Secretary Aung Than Wai said the party was calling for an official investigation into and action against the regional immigration chief, Win Lwin, who it accuses of violating the 1982 Citizenship Law by issuing a national ID card to a “Bengali” woman named Mya Nandar Khin. He said that the ANP maintains that the woman in question was born to non-Burmese parents, making her unqualified for citizenship.
“Bengali” is a controversial term used by many Burmese nationalists to identify the Rohingya minority – a name suggesting that the Muslim community are immigrants from Bangladesh.
“We demand a court investigation into state immigration chief U Win Lwin for violating the 1982 Citizenship Law,” said Aung Than Wai.
According to the ANP, Win Lwin violated Article 7(a) of the 1982 Citizenship Law and should therefore be punished with a seven-year jail sentence or a 10,000 kyat (US$7.25) fine.
Sunday’s demonstration was joined by around 300 Sittwe residents.
The ANP said it had previously filed a complaint against Win Lwin for violating the 1982 Citizenship Law, but without success.
On 8 February, the President’s Office announced the formation of a steering committee to oversee the issuance of National Verification Cards—documents that serve as a precursor to potential citizenship for Rohingya—in an effort to ensure that the process is “carried out speedily with momentum”. The committee is chaired by Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population Thein Swe.
A report by Nikkei Asian Review last week said more than 250 previously stateless Rohingya had received citizenship in recent weeks. The report did not cite a source but described the newly minted citizens as part of a broader “quiet push” to improve the circumstances of Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State.