Burma Times: 14 Feb 2015 By Ibrahim Shah
The chief minister of Arakan state, Maj-Gen Maung Maung Ohn, the designated military official of the ruling military dominated regime led by President Thein Sein, summoned representatives from foreign NGOs to his OFFICE on February 12 to warn them to refrain from interfering in the sensitive issue, the recent order of president to hand in the white cards to authorities by March 31 before upcoming referendum.
On Feb. 2, the parliament approved a law proposed by President to allow white card holders to vote in the upcoming constitutional amendment which will be held in May 2015.
On the other hand, Rakhine MPs and a group of opposition parties, including ASSK’s [the pro-democracy icon and human right activist Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy] NLD opposed the law.
Following the protest staged by racist Rakhine extremists and ethnocentric Buddhist monks backed by Ma Ba Tha[ Organization for protection race and religion], the President’s Office announced on Thursday that the white cards will expire at the end of next month and must be handed over to authorities by march 31.The white card holders are said to number around 1.5 million people, of whom predominantly are Rohingyas The protestors said that the white card holders who are not citizens have no rights to vote in referendum.
There are more than 20 foreign NGOs carrying out aid operations in refugee camps[IDP camps set up aftermath of the deadly violence of 2012] in the Arakan State under agreements with the Union government, according to Chief minister of Arakan statement.
“I warned NGOs to refrain from interfering in the affairs related to the white card. I told them just to attentively carry out their aid operations,” U Maung Maung Ohn told MEDIA on February 13.
The current white card holders, predominantly Rohingyas from western part of Burma/northern Arakan, have been insistently denied their existence there by Burmese gov’t and Rakhine people.
Arakan was a sovereign state until 1784 in which year the brutal Burman King Maung Wai invaded it and slaughtered many Rohingyas.
Since then, the Rohingya people have been encountering mass killing, arbitrary detention, arson attack, systematic torture in unknown detention centers by Burmanized and Rakhinized authorities, forced labour, and restrictions in movement, marriage, education, profession, medical care, livelihoods.
Rohingyas were the officially recognized citizens of Burma until 1980s and they were deprived of their citizenship rights by a black law, 1982 Burma citizenship Act, drafted by Burmanized Dictator Ne Win.
According to comment of Rohingya political activist Ibrahim Shah and Mohmaed Ibrahim on the current white card issue, “the current flip of President Thein Sein over the approved voting rights for white card holders, an order without parliamentary approval to hand in white cards to authorities, is a U-turn political trick of President Thein Sein to implement the Rakhine Action Plan. So, it is very important right now that international community regardless faith and race in particular UN must intervene the flip of President Thein Sein over the voting rights for white card holders and officially confiscation of white cards without issuing any new cards which might guarantee the citizenship rights of Rohingya because the order to hand in white cards to authorities is intentionally designed for Rohingya to make them lack of document.
Rakhine Action Plan is a kind of territorial policy made by central and state governments to implement so called citizenship verification process which was tactfully designed just for Rohingyas to make them as Bengali who are recorded by Burmese gov’t as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh despite having many historical facts that they [Rohingyas] have been living there even before the arrival of Burman and Rakhine.