Myanmar is “effectively” denying citizenship to the Rohingya through National Verification Card (NVC), a rights group on said Tuesday, calling for abolition of such a process.
In a reported titled “Tools of Genocide”, Thailand-based Fortify Rights exposed how the Myanmar government coerces and forces Rohingya community members to fill NVC forms to “identify them as foreigners”.
Matthew Smith, Fortify Rights’ chief executive officer, told Anadolu Agency over phone from Bangkok that Myanmar authorities have imposed restrictions on freedom of movement on the Rohingya “in the context of implementing the NVC process".
“These NVCs strip Rohingya of their ethnicity,” Smith said. “When Rohingya fill in the form, they are identified as foreigners, denying them access to full citizenship and other government services.”
The report called actions of the Myanmar government towards the Rohingya as “discriminatory administrative measures” to deny the persecuted group the right to nationality.
Smith said that findings of the 102-page report found that “rationale behind this [NVC] process is a broader effort to destroy Rohingya as a people.”
The Myanmar government has long been pushing Rohingya to accept NVC, claiming that it will enable them with access to public services.
However, the Rohingya have repeatedly rejected it saying the move would exacerbate their sufferings as the NVC appears to identify them as Bengali, rejecting their original ethnic identity Rohingya.
The Fortify Rights did interviews of more than 600 members of the Rohingya community. It documented the victim and witness accounts of torture, threats and intimidation.
The report insisted that any plan of repatriation of the Rohingya from any part of the world should be put on hold.
“The NVC process violates customary international law as well as core human rights treaties to which Myanmar is a party,” the report said.
It said that Buddhist-majority Myanmar is using a citizenship law that entered into force in 1982 to deny access to full citizenship for individuals who do not belong to “national” ethnic groups determined by the state.
“Government of Myanmar should suspend and abolish NVC process and amend 1982 citizenship law to give Rohingya people access to citizenship,” urged the report.
The report maintained that Myanmar “relies on an arbitrary and disputed list of 135 recognized national ethnic groups and Rohingya are not among the national ethnic groups.”
“The law effectively strips them of access to full citizenship rights,” it added.
Smith said that it is incumbent upon international community to pressure the UN Security Council to “refer Myanmar to International Criminal Court for its crimes against humanity in Rakhine state.”
The report noted that successive governments in Myanmar implemented measures and legislation to “erase Rohingya Muslims’ identity and rights, creating an enabling environment for genocide.”
In addition to certain UN prohibited acts, such as killing members of a group, “genocidal states often use legal and administrative tools to facilitate the destruction of a targeted group in whole or in part”, the report said referring to the NVC process.
Smith called on international community to impose sanctions on the Myanmar government as well as a global arms embargo on the country's military.
- Persecuted community
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.
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