Myanmar's historic census draws criticism from Rohingyas
Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 01:37
March 30 - A measure forbidding the use of the term ''Rohingya'' on Myanmar's national census draws criticism from the Rohingya community. Nathan Frandino reports.
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Volunteers in Myanmar are going door-to-door for the country's first census in 30 years.
It's intended to verify the nationality of Rohingyas living in the western Rakhine state, but authorities are not using the term 'Rohingya' on the official forms.
Officials introduced the measure to prevent Buddhist groups from boycotting the census.
Many in Myanmar do not consider the Rohingya an official ethnic group.
Some of the Rohingyas say it's not fair.
(SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) MUSLIM HEAD OF VILLAGE, AUNG PE, SAYING:
"We are not ok with the census like this. We want to be on it, but if we say this name, Rohingya, they don't put us in. We feel aggrieved."
The Rakhine State is home to the vast majority of the nation's Rohingya population, estimated at around 800,000, according to Democratic Voice of Burma.
Local media reports said the country's Ministry of Information ordered volunteers not to use the term.
(SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) SCHOOL TEACHER AND CENSUS VOLUNTEER, SEIN WIN, SAYING:
"There is no problem here, but all of them are saying that they are 'Rohingya'. Then, we need to do nothing since the order from above is 'we don't need to write down a race that does not exist'."
An immigration officer working with the volunteers said the Rohingyas must be included.
(SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) IMMIGRATION OFFICER, WIN HLAING, SAYING:
"They need to be on the list as it's the first census in 30 years. Otherwise, they'll lose citizenship rights. That's why I want to tell them to be on the census list."
The census is seen by some as a pledge to provide Myanmar's citizens with international standards and principles of human rights.
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