Burma Times Correspondent: August 12, 2015
High ranking officials from the Hlun Htein along with Lawaka officials addressed Rohingya community leaders in Maungdaw town on Monday.
The Hlun Htein officers asked Rohingyas present in the meeting to take very seriously the ‘generous’ offer of the green card or face severe consequences.
Only Rohingyas from the village tracts of Maungdaw South were present.
A Hlun Htein officer whom Rohingyas identify as Aung Thein Min did most of the talking. He said that although the Muslims had crossed into this country illegally from Bangladesh, Myanmar was very generous to them and giving them the chance of becoming citizens.
The green card is given to naturalised citizens. Rohingyas however claim they are indigenous to Arakan.
The Hlun Htein officer then told them if they accepted the green card, they would be free to worship in the mosques and travel without restrictions. This is because Myanmar has been very generous to the foreigners and wanted them to be one of their own. However if they were persistent in identifying themselves as Rohingyas instead of Bengalis, the authorities would pressure them. “You will not be able to take that pressure,” he warned.
He then went on to say the Muslims would even be allowed to vote in the elections if they accepted the green card.
After the meeting, the Rohingyas conferred between themselves. They expressed ridicule in the commander’s promise of letting them vote, saying voting for Thein Sein or anyone else would not help their cause. They also expressed pessimism at the lifting of movement restrictions and freedom of worship.
However they identified the presence of a high ranking Hlun Htein officer as a sign of things to come. Generally such meetings are presided by the Lawaka. They all agreed that the government intended to turn the heat on.