Monday, May 18, 2009

Immigration Authority Makes Arakanese to Burmese on National ID Cards

Ann (Narinjara): The immigration department has issued new national ID cards to Arakanese nationals in Ann Township for the 2010 election, but identified their race on the cards as Burman rather than Arakanese, said a teacher from Ann.

"Our parents are Rahkine [Arakanese], but the immigration department issued the ID cards to us with "Burman nationals" on the cards. We disagreed with such listing of Burman on our national ID cards, but the authority refused to correct the nationality listed on the cards," he said.

Local sources said many Arakanese people in Ann Township have received their ID cards with Burman listed as the race instead of Arakanese, but they have not been given the chance to refuse the incorrect ID cards.

"We requested they correct our nationalities on the ID cards but the officials told us they are very busy with making national ID cards for everyone around the township and they will be able to correct the nationalities after the 2010 election. We have no other choice so we accepted the ID cards despite our nationalities being listed as Burman," he said.

Ann Town is located in central Arakan State and has the largest army cantonment in the state stationed there. Many relatives of Burmese soldiers and officials are now living in the town along with local Arakanese people.

"The immigration department in our township has been issuing new national ID cards to Burmese settlers and local Arakanese in the township since January of this year so they can vote in the 2010 election, but all the ID cards that have been issued have Burman noted as the race," the teacher added.

Some Arakanese people have complained about the new ID cards but the government employees have remained silent on the issue in order to avoid the attention of the high authority.

A clerk from one government department said, "Burmese high officials always explain to us that Arakanese and Burman is the same nationality and the same people, regardless of what is listed on the ID card. Whether Arakanese or Burman, it is not a problem."

Most local people in the township are uneducated and innocent, so they accepted the ID cards with Burman listed as the race without any objection.

A politician from Sittwe said, "It is a Burmanisation policy against our Arakanese people and was done with intent by the authorities. The Burmese military authority wants to see the whole of Ann Township populated with Burman people, not Arakanese, because the town is strategically important to the Burmese army and the authority wants to build the town as an army city in western Burma."

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