Burma Times Correspondent: June 02, 2015
The date to hand over all white cards is now officially over. According to the government, the vast majority of white cards have been collected before the due date.
Contrary to earlier expectations, there were no resistance from Rohingya Muslims in handing over their white cards. The government had warned anyone withholding white cards with dire consequences.
Most white card holders have been given a receipt that will perform as a temporary document. However in some areas near the border and in troubled spots like Kiladong, these documents have often been withheld. This has left some Rohingyas without any official documents creating fears that the authorities will accuse them of being Bangladeshis and push them over the nearby border.
The declaration by the government asking Rohingya Muslims to hand over white cards was met with concern as they feared the only document supporting their residence in this land was about to be withdrawn. The government however says that the white card holders will be screened for citizenship.
Lawaka officials are now telling Rohingyas that instead of the white card, they shall be eligible for the green card. But for that, they will have to identify themselves as Bengalis, instead of Rohingyas as such an ethnic group ‘does not exist’.
The green card is the identity card of foreigners who are being naturalised by the state. They don’t enjoy equal rights as pink card holders that refer to full citizens, but are a degree above white card holders that refer to foreigners who are not citizens of Burma.
Few Rohingyas received the green card last year but say there have been no improvements in their situation. Also any initiative to grant even second class citizenship to Rohingyas will be ferociously resisted by Buddhist nationalist groups whose influence have increased in recent years.