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Myanmar to revoke minority ID cards

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 01:16

Myanmar is to revoke temporary identification cards for minorities including its 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims who have effectively been disenfranchised. Yiming Woo reports.

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This woman is a part-time teacher in Yangon, who's half Rohingya Muslim. Like many others of this minority group, she has a temporary white-card ID which Myanmar's government is about to revoke. (SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) 35-YEAR OLD WHITE CARD HOLDER WHO DOES NOT WANT TO BE IDENTIFIED SAYING: "I am not happy. I am sick of this. I also want the right to vote as a citizen. I am not sure what kind of card I will get back after the white card is revoked." The government initially said it might grant white card holders the right to vote, sparking protests among the majority Buddhists. Human Rights Watch activists are critical of the government's decision to back-track as a result. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF ASIA DIVISION, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, PHIL ROBERTSON, SAYING: "The original idea of allowing white card holders to vote in a constitutional referendum that would happen in May is a very positive one and then this reversal, as I said, is astonishingly bad. I mean it is essentially, as I said, an act of political cowardice by President Thein Sein and his government." White card holders are mostly Rohingya Muslims, a minority of more than 1 million. They're much resented in Myanmar. Many consider them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though large numbers have lived in Myanmar for generations.

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Myanmar to revoke minority ID cards

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 01:16