Saturday, 31 October 2020

By Tin Soe

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Burmese military junta is issuing Temporary Registration Cards (TRC), which is called the White card to Arakanese Rohingya in Maungdaw yesterday, according to a local elder from Bawli Bazaar  (Kyeinchaung).

The program was organized by Burma’s border security force (Nasaka) outpost number 24 under sector number 4 based in Bawli Bazaar, he added.

The authorities along with the Immigration Department officials and Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) members are working together to process the issuing of the White card, said a VPDC member.

The authorities are issuing White cards to Arakanese Rohingya, who are of age 10 and above but the processing is not systematic. Whenever the authorities want to issue the card, they start in a place of their choosing, the member said.

The concerned authorities collected 5000 kyat per head where  photocopies of family list and TRC card of parents is 500 kyat for VPDC,  Nasaka have to be paid 1000 kyat and the immigration 3500 kyat, the village VPDC member said .

The amount to be paid is very high for those struggling for survival. In this situation, most of Arakanese Rohingya community will not be able to have the card, said a school teacher from Maungdaw.

“I have two sons and one daughter, who will be able to get the card, but I can’t pay the money which the authority has demanded, as I have no husband and only our income is from daily labour of my sons,” said an old woman from Bawli Bazaar.

In 1982, Burma’s military rulers brought in a new Citizenship Law which deprived most people of Indian and Chinese descent of citizenship. However, the timing of its promulgation, shortly after the Arakanese Rohingya refugee repatriation of 1979, strongly suggests that it was specifically designed to exclude the Arakanese Rohingya. Unlike the preceding 1948 Citizenship Act, the 1982 Law is essentially based on the principle of just sanguine and identifies three categories of citizens: full, associate and naturalized, according to a report of Chris Lewa from Arakan Project, “North Arakan: an open prison for the Rohingya in Burma.”

In 1989, colour-coded Citizens Scrutiny Cards (CRCs) were introduced: pink cards for full citizens, blue for associate citizens and green for naturalized citizens. The Arakanese Rohingya were not issued any cards. In 1995, the Burmese authorities started issuing them with a Temporary Registration Card (TRC), a white card, which did not specify nationality, pursuant to the 1949 Residents of Burma Registration Act. The TRC does not mention the bearer’s place of birth and cannot be used to claim citizenship. The family list, which every family residing in Burma possesses, only records family members and their date of birth. It does not indicate the place of birth and therefore provides no official evidence of birth in Burma – and so perpetuates their statelessness, the report stated.

According to Aung Htoo of the Burma Lawyers’ Council, “everyone can get an identity card.”  Most of the people registering are being given what are known as “white cards” for their colour, temporary identity certificates allowing non-citizens to travel through the country.  The temporary cards are good for five years and the government has promised that they will be exchanged for permanent citizenship cards after the 2010 general elections.

On the other hand, the Shan Herald Agency for News based in Thailand, has reported thousands of Chinese receiving white cards in Namkham, Muse and Panghsai townships of Shan State before referendum.