Burma Times Correspondent: September 17, 2015
Authorities are telling Rohingya Muslims in some villages of Kyaukataw they might be able to vote if they submit the identity cards of their ancestors thereby proving residence in the country before independence.
On Tuesday, immigration officials accompanied by police came to Hondhol, Nairong, Bara para and Pollom of Kyauktaw. They asked all Rohingyas to immediately hand over any identity papers that provides proof their grandfathers or great fathers were residents of Arakan state when the independent nation of Burma was formed in 1948.
Around 250 identity papers were immediately handed over in Nairong, 600 in Hondhol, 50 in Bara para and 50 in Pollom. The papers will be verified by the immigration and if their claims are true, at least a thousand Rohingyas will be enrolled in the last minute.
Burma Times is unable to independently verify the sincerity of the authorities. But sources say Kyauktaw has recently turned into a stronghold of the separatist group Arakan Army which wants an independent ‘fatherland’ for the Rakhines. Naturally this is at odds with the military backed regime led by Thein Sein.
On the contrary, Rohingyas have almost zero political strength and are willing to jump on the bandwagon of any political party that protects them from ethnic cleansing. In 2010, the military backed USDP perceived the weakness of the Rohingyas and used the community as a card against Rakhine nationalist platforms.
Since then the USDP broke its election pledge and joined in the anti Muslim bandwagon and was responsible along with the Buddhist and Rakhine nationalists in instigating one of the worst ethnic cleansings in the country’s bloody history.
The military has always been at the forefront of anti Muslim violence. But the powerful institution has become increasingly adept in playing the two major ethnic communities of the country against each other.
Voting rights of Rohingyas Muslims was cancelled following mass protests by Buddhist nationalists at the beginning of the year.