Monday, May 7, 2012

2014 Census in Burma must be universal and inclusive of Rohingya : Rohingya organizations

Chittagong, Bangladesh: Several Rohingya organizations had made a call for the 2014 census in Burma to be universal and inclusive of the Rohingya people on May 5, according to their joint stamen.

The statement was released by the Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO), Burmese Rohingya Organization, UK (BROUK), Burmese Rohingya Association Japan (BRAJ), Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia (BRCA), Burmese Rohingya Community in Norway (BRCN), Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) and Burmese Rohingya for Democracy in Burma (RLDB).

“Recently the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA) has agreed to support Burma’s proposed 2014 population and housing census,” according to the Rohingya Organizations statement. But, “Rights groups worry that if not conducted properly, the census could marginalize minorities such as the Rohingya or those living in one of Burma's many conflict areas.”

The Burma Ministry of Immigration and Population and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) April 31, held a forum on plans for Burma's 2014 Population and Housing Census, was participated by lawmakers and members of the National Commission on Population and Development in Nay Pyi Taw, according to the press release of forum.

U Khin Yi, Chairperson of the National Population and Development Commission and the Union Minister of the Ministry of Immigration and Population told the forum that a successful census will require "broad and effective partnership" involving various government sectors, parliamentarians, civil society, the private sector and international organizations.

“Since 1983 –within 30 years- this is first whole Burma Nationwide Census would be conducted in 2014 which will be organized and being prepared by Central Census Committee.”

Last October Notification enlisted Burma Population 60.38 million by assessments from 24 Townships in Sample counting. “1998 - 2006 Population increase rate 20.02, we calculated.”

In an effort to deny Rohingya’s existence in Burma:- the Immigration Ministers U Khin Yi accused the Rohingyas of being illegal Bangladeshi immigrants; the Chief Political Advisor to the President U Ko Ko Hlaing confirmed that the restriction on their (Rohingyas’) freedom of movement is necessary from so-called national security perspective; and the Director General of Burma’s Department of Population Myint Kyaing lied in a proud manner, “we have no stateless people in Myanmar and there is no Rohingya in Myanmar as well, because no Bengali people are residing in Myanmar," according to the Rohingya Organizations joint stamen.

"No true census has ever taken place in Burma, and great injustice has been done to the ethnic Rohingyas.”

"We, therefore, urge the United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), United Kingdom, USA, European Union, ASEAN and Myanmar’s neighbors to put pressure on the Myanmar government to genuinely include Rohingya as a ''national race'' in Myanmar''s proposed census," the statement said.

The statement said due to persecution, an estimated 1.5 million Rohingyas have taken refuge in Bangladesh and other countries.

To ensure the census is universal and "inclusive of all national races", the statement said the oppressive 1982 citizenship law should be amended in conformity with international conventions, and international custom and principles generally recognized with regard to nationality.

In addition, it should be brought in line with the principles embodied in the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of August 30, 1961.

"Suitable arrangements should also be made for the inclusion of all Rohingya and other Burmese diasporas," the statement said.

The Central Census Committee Chairperson U Maung Maung Swe said: "Data obtained from the census will be linked to the national planning." , calling on all stakeholders to cooperate in undertaking the 2014 census where the UNFPA Representative Mohamed Abdel-Ahad said " Censuses generate accurate information on population growth and help to estimate current and future needs, including needs for schools, teachers, hospitals, doctors, nurses and employment opportunities, housing, and social security and safety nets."

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