Naung Khaing Aung
Narinjara News, 19 March:
Local residents across the Arakan State have been protesting against the government’s citizenship verification process in Maungdaw area for failing to comply with the existing 1982 Citizenship Law.
Protests were held in Sittwe, Mrauk U, Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Kyauktaw, Minbya, and Myebon on Sunday (19 March).
“We are protesting because citizenship ID cards are being issued to Bengalis in Maungdaw area without complying with the 1982 Citizenship Law,” U Aung Htay, leader of the protests in Sittwe, said to Narinjara News.
According to him, U Win Lwin, director of the Arakan State’s Immigration and National Registration Department, have issued citizenship ID cards to 53 people in Maungdaw.
In an announcement released in Maungdaw on 27 February, a total of 53 people have been received their citizenship ID cards, comprising 21 people from the first batch and 14 qualified people and 18 people under the age of 18.
During the protest held in Sittwe on 19 March, the protestors shouted slogans that called on the government to charge the people who have breached the law, immediately arrest the Arakan State Immigration Department’s head U Win Lwin, retract the illegal cards, take actions against those who have lied in receiving the cards, include a local representative in the citizenship scrutiny committee, and carry out the scrutinisation process in line with the 1982 Citizenship Law. They also shouted slogans for the long existence of the Arakan State and the Arakan people.
U Win Lwin, director of the Immigration and National Registration Department, did not answer the phone calls made by Narinja News.
When Narinjara News contacted the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population in Naypyidaw, its permanent secretary U Myint Kyaing responded that they have followed the guidelines set down by the government and carried out the scrutinisation process on township, state, and central levels before issuing the citizenship ID cards and he did not want to give any comments concerning the demands raised by the protestors.
Protest leader U Aung Htay said representatives from Buthidaung and Maungdaw and 200 residents from Sittwe will stage a boycott at Wingabar Grounds from 7 am to 5 pm from 21 to 23 March if the government fails to recognize and agree to their demands.