UN asks Myanmar to make Rohingya Muslims citizens

UN asks Myanmar to make Rohingya Muslims citizens

UNITED NATIONS - The Associated Press
UN asks Myanmar to make Rohingya Muslims citizens

Rohingya Muslims say they have lived in the country for hundreds of years. AP photo

The United Nations General Assembly’s human rights committee passed a resolution urging Myanmar to give the stateless Rohingya minority equal access to citizenship and to crack down on Buddhist violence against them and other Muslims in the southeast Asian nation.

The resolution, passed by consensus on Nov. 19, received mixed reaction in Myanmar.

The director of the president’s office, Maj. Zaw Htay, said steps were being taken to address the issue, and the opposition party headed by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi accused the rights committee of “interfering” in the country’s internal affairs.

Under General Assembly rules the body will unanimously pass the resolution later this year.

Myanmar emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011, but its transition to democracy has been marred by sectarian violence that has left more than 240 people dead and sent another 240,000 fleeing their homes, most of them Rohingya. Some say the inter-communal violence presents a threat to Myanmar’s political reforms because it could encourage security forces to re-assert control. In 1982, Myanmar passed a citizenship law recognizing eight races and 130 minority groups - but omitted the nation’s 800,000 Rohingya, among Myanmar’s 60 million people.

Many Myanmar Buddhists view the Rohingya as interlopers brought in by British colonialists from modern-day Bangladesh, but many Rohingya say they have lived in the country once known as Burma for hundreds of years.

Suu Kyi, who has expressed interest in being the next president of Myanmar, has had little else to say about Rohingya rights. She declined to meet with an Organization of the Islamic Conference delegation visiting Myanmar last week to look into the plight of the religious minority.