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Rohingyas deserve Myanmar citizenship, says Anne

January 25, 2015



A visiting US Assistant Secretary of State has said Rohingyas deserve citizens of Myanmar to end their “statelessness”, which she identified as “a root cause” of their plight and displacement, report agencies.


Anne Richard of the Department of Population, Refugees and Migration in a seminar in Dhaka said Wednesday the Rohingya population remained stateless as “they are not recognised as a distinct ethnic group in the country’s citizenship law”.


“Statelessness is a root cause of the suffering and displacement that the Rohingyas are experiencing inside Burma, and a key reason they flee to neighbouring countries”.


The Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the seminar styled ‘US policy on refugee, migration and population dynamics’ for the visiting official.


Anne C Richard said her country is committed to resettling refugees who cannot return home saying it wants to expand partnership with Bangladesh.


“We look forward to expanding our partnership with Bangladesh in the years to come,” she said adding the current situation regarding refugee issue benefits no one.


Anne Richard, who came to Bangladesh for the first time, said there was a focus on trying to ensure that they (Myanmar) recognise that many of Rohiyngas are, in fact, deserve the papers to show they are ‘citizens of Myanmar’.


Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque also spoke at the programme held with Chairman of the BISS Board of Governors Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad in the chair.


Responding to a question, Anne Richard said she does not think the US voice is weak on Burma issue and mentioned that lots have been done, and there is a realisation that the situation in Rakhaine cannot just be ignored.


The US official laid emphasis on ensuring freedom of movement, removing lack of educational and livelihood opportunities there.


Describing each crisis ‘unique’, the US assistant secretary said she just has come from Burma, where hopes for the future are threatened by ethnic and religious rivalries and violence.


Since 2011, violence in Kachin and northern Shan States has internally displaced an estimated 100,000 people. And since 2012, fighting in Rakhine state between ethnic Rakhine and Rohingya communities has displaced 140,000.


Anne visited both of these areas and participated in a high-level human rights dialogue.


“The United States has been urging the Burmese government to take steps to end hostilities, build mutual confidence, and establish a political dialogue,” she said adding that at the highest levels, they have repeatedly pressed the government of Burma to take decisive action to address the root causes of conflict.


Anne said the US and she personally want to thank Bangladesh for what this nation has done to help vulnerable people. “For decades, you’ve hosted hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas…and you’ve launched the national Strategy for Undocumented Myanmar Nationals, which can help provide critical humanitarian assistance and protection.”