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Responding to this week’s UN resolution on Burma which urged Naypyidaw to grant citizenship to the country’s Rohingya community, presidential spokesman Ye Htut hit back, calling on the world body to respect Burma’s sovereignty.
Posting on Facebook on Thursday, Ye Htut said, “The government absolutely does not accept the word ‘Rohingya’; however, it maintains that everyone – including the Bengalis in Arakan state – who meets the criteria provided in the 1982 Citizenship Law, should be granted Burmese citizenship.
“Those who don’t meet the criteria will not be granted citizenship regardless of pressure from anyone, and this is our sovereign right. Democratic nations in the west, including the US and the UK, have their own specific rules and regulations regarding citizenship and will not grant citizenship to anyone who does not qualify under their laws regardless of calls by any international organisation, and we have the same principle.”
The presidential spokesman further called on the UN Human Rights Committee to note the conduct of many Bengalis [Rohingyas] in Burma who refuse to cooperate with the registration programme being undertaken by the Ministry of Immigration and Human Resources.
The UN General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee (Third Committee) on Tuesday passed by consensus a resolution which called on Burma to grant citizenship to the Rohingya minority and to put an end to religious violence.
Addressing the General Assembly, Kyaw Tint, Burma’s ambassador to the UN, said that Naypyidaw does not accept every point in the resolution and also objects to the use of the term “Rohingya”. However he pledged to consider the potential for citizenship, freedom to travel and land ownership for the Rohingyas “under existing Burmese laws”.
The Myanmar Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said this week that the situation between Rohingya Muslims and Arakanese Buddhists has recently improved following field-work in five townships of Arakan state.
While welcoming the reforms carried out by President Thein Sein and his government, the UN also expressed concern over the continued detention and imprisonment of political activists in the country, and it called on Burma to keep its promise to release all political prisoners by the end of this year.
Speaking to DVB, Sitt Myaing, the secretary of the MHRC, said: “It will take a lot of negotiation to accomplish this by the end of December.”
Tuesday’s UN resolution on Burma also cited concerns about the persecution of political and human rights activists, forced relocations, land confiscations and sexual violence against women.