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19-25 June 2015

Weekly Media Monitoring report for Burma
Posted on July 2, 2015


Compiled by Kate McFarland

  1. Former white card holders cut from Rakhine voter list
  2. Bangladesh rejects Burma ‘proposal’ to link migrant return to freeing guard
  3. UNHCR wants Malaysia to give work permits to Rohingya refugees

1. Former white card holders cut from Rakhine voter list
State-Owned Media:

Myanmar Times, June 24: “Former white card holders cut from Rakhine voter list

  • Rakhine State electoral officials have posted voter lists ahead of the November general elections and several hundred thousand Rohingya Muslims who hold only temporary ID documents had their disenfranchisement confirmed.
  • In February, the government declared the documents invalid from March 31 under pressure from Buddhist nationalists, while parliament has since amended electoral laws to remove voting rights for white-card holders. The Constitutional Tribunal has also ruled that temporary ID holders cannot vote.
  • Disenfranchisement of the Rohingya community could help the Rakhine National Party, dominated by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, achieve its goal of sweeping all seats in the state in November, both for the national parliament and the state assembly.
  • The National League for Democracy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has little support in Rakhine, where it is seen as representing the interests of the country’s Bamar majority. While she is criticised internationally for not speaking out about abuses against the Rohingya, she is conversely seen in Rakhine State as being too sympathetic to the Rohingya cause.
International Media

UCA News, June 24: “Rohingya stripped of voting rights ahead of key Myanmar election

  • Thousands of Rohingya Muslims who cast ballots in previous elections were left off the voting lists published in Rakhine state this week.
  • The move was expected after the Myanmar government earlier this year stripped Rohingyas of temporary “white-card” identity documents that previously allowed them to vote, though did not permit them to access state services or other rights granted to citizens. The fact that Rohingya were allowed to vote in the 2010 election has remained a point of contention with majority Rakhine. 
2. Bangladesh rejects Burma ‘proposal’ to link migrant return to freeing guard
Private Media

Irrawaddy, June 24: “Bangladesh rejects Burma ‘proposal’ to link migrant return to freeing guard

  • Bangladesh’s border guard said on Monday that it has turned down a proposal from Burma to return a captured officer if Dhaka also took in some 600 migrants from a people trafficking ship intercepted by the Burma Navy.
  • Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry has already summoned the Burmese ambassador in Dhaka and lodged a strong protest to ask for the immediate release of Abdur Razzak. Razzak was seized and another Bangladeshi guard was wounded by Burmese forces on June 17 after the two sides exchanged gunfire while chasing drug smugglers on the Naff River separating the two countries.
  • Burma wanted to link the handover to the return of the migrants. Instead, a flag meeting was proposed.
International Media

Anadolu Agency, June 24: “Bangladesh rejects Myanmar border guard return offer

  • Bangladesh's government has rejected conditions reportedly set down by Myanmar for the release of a Bangladeshi Border Guard (BGB) officer detained last week.
  • Home Minister Assaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters Tuesday that Bangladesh will not accept 556 Malaysia-bound human trafficking victims intercepted by Myanmar without first verifying their nationalities, in order to secure the release of the officer.
  • While Myanmar claims that all of the trafficking victims are Bangladeshi citizens, Bangladesh wants to verify that none are Rohingya Muslims, a stateless group from Myanmar's western Rakhine state. Myanmar does not recognize the term Rohingya. He added, however, that he was hopeful a deal could be struck without the condition because Myanmar had agreed to treat the issues separately.
3. UNHCR wants Malaysia to give work permits to Rohingya refugees
International Media

The Malaysian Insider, June 22: “UNHCR wants Malaysia to give work permits to Rohingya refugees

  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has requested the Malaysian government to provide work permits to 46,581 Rohingya refugees residing in the country.
  • Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the matter was recommended by UNHCR to provide work opportunities for refugees to earn their own income.
  • "In view of the circumstances in Malaysia, which require foreign workers, the UNHCR recommends granting work permits (foreigners) to Rohingya refugees who have been issued with UNHCR cards," he told reporters at Parliament lobby, in Kuala Lumpur today.
  • He, however, said his ministry had informed UNHCR that the application could only be made through the Home Ministry.
4. Rohingya infiltration fears rise in India
International Media

The Economic Times (India), June 24: “Rohingya infiltration fears rise in India

  • New Delhi has sounded an alert over increasing number of Rohingya Muslims settling in India and tasked the home ministry with calling a meeting of states to ask them to monitor the activities of the community amid fear that its members may be radicalised to become terrorists. Deputy NSA Arvind Gupta held a meeting last week on the issue over increasing infiltration of Rohingya Muslims into India from Myanmar.
  • Senior Intelligence Bureau and home ministry officials at the meeting said that the government did not know how many members of the community were settled in the country, as estimates range from 15,000 to 40,000. "The intelligence agencies and home ministry expressed concern to the deputy NSA that Rohingya Muslims could be cannon fodder for jihadist organisations given the persecution they have faced at home and were forced to flee Myanmar," a senior government official said.
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