Burma Times Correspondent: March 14, 2015
Authorities throughout Arakan are urging Rohingya Muslims to denounce their claims as natives of the land and apply for the green card according to the 1982 citizenship law.
Immigration officials have told Rohingya Muslims in Saheb Bazar, Buthidaung that their troubles will be over if they get the green card. For this they must be prepared to identify themselves as Bengalis and not Rohingyas. The officials also said that anyone with the claims of green card must have a grandparent or a parent with proper papers dating back to the pre 1982 era.
Similarly government collaborators in Ang Dhang, Maungdaw South have urged Rohingya Muslims to apply for the green card. At the same time, a BGP official in the area have threatened Rohingya Muslims with dire consequences if they did not do as they were told. Many Rohingyas who insisted on applying as Rohingyas instead as Bengalis have been imprisoned and tortured. In a few cases their female relatives were raped. Many fear that this might be a precedent for the coming days.
The green card refers to foreigners who have become citizens of the state as opposed to the pink card which refers to full citizens. Green card holders are treated as second class citizens in Burmese law but they have more rights that the white card holders.
In the past the government has given the green card to 169 Muslims in 2014 as part of a pilot project. These included some Kaman Muslims, who have traditionally been considered full citizens. As the government moves closer to Buddhist nationalist groups, Kamans have also been increasingly targeted alongside their Rohingya counterparts.
The green card can be revoked by the government anytime. Muslims issued with the green card have no seen any changes in their condition till date despite initial optimism.
Buddhist nationalist groups oppose government plans to provide Arakanese Muslims with the green card.