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Burmese and other stateless people in Burma, Bangladesh and India

Individual Documents

Date of publication: 30 June 2016
Description/subject: SUBMISSION TO THE COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW) For the Examination of the combined 4th and 5th periodic State Party Reports (CEDAW/C/MMR/4-5) - MYANMAR - June 2016.....RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE CEDAW COMMITTEE: "The Committee should urge the Government of Myanmar: * To take immediate steps to eradicate all discriminatory policies and practices against the Rohingya population; * To combat all acts of incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence against religious and ethnic minorities, in particular against the Rohingya, condemn such acts publicly and take swift legal action against perpetrators; * To take all necessary measures to establish the rule of law in Rakhine State, end impunity, and provide security and equal protection of the law to all, including Rohingya women; * To engage in a confidence-building process with all communities in Rakhine State, inclusive of women, and to promote interfaith and intercommunal dialogue; * To ensure that any Action Plan for Peace and Reconciliation in Rakhine State is in line with international human rights principles, especially those relating specifically to women... On Citizenship and birth registration: * To review the 1982 Citizenship Law in accordance with international standards in order to prevent and eradicate statelessness in Myanmar, to bring Myanmar law into compliance with the universally respected prohibition of racial discrimination and with Myanmar’s obligations under Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) with the intention of granting citizenship and associated rights to the Rohingyas; * To urgently resolve the legal status of Rohingyas through a transparent process that will provide incentives to all stakeholders to participate in the process in order to grant citizenship and associated rights to the Rohingyas; * To issue birth certificates to all Rohingya children born in Myanmar in compliance with domestic law and Myanmar’s obligations under the CRC (Article 7.1); * To immediately register all Rohingya children by removing burdensome requirements which make it difficult to insert their names in their parents’ family list. * To abolish without delay all local orders restricting movement and marriage, and which seek to limit the number of children a family can have, orders which are exclusively applied on the Rohingya in Rakhine State... On freedom of movement: * To revise and repeal all orders and regulations that restrict the freedom of movement of the Rohingya; * To lift the curfew still in place in Maungdaw and Buthidaung Townships; * To establish conditions conducive to the voluntary return of the displaced Rohingyas to their place of origin or to other places of voluntary resettlement in safety and dignity, and to ensure adequate reintegration and security... On access to livelihood and basic services: * To substantially improve access to quality health care and education services to Rohingya children, in IDP camps as well as in all other locations; * To guarantee unhindered humanitarian access to all Rohingya communities in Rakhine State; * To withdraw the Population Control Healthcare Bill in particular, as this law could result in new restrictions targeting Rohingya women as it allows authorities to impose 3-year birth spacing in any region of the country, in particular as it could further increase discrimination against Rohingya women; * To conduct extensive teacher training among Rohingyas, including for women, and to restore access to higher education, including university education, to Rohingya students; * To ensure access to food and eradicate malnutrition so that women and children can meet their physical and mental needs and responsibilities... On violence against women and access to justice: * To establish support mechanisms for women victims of all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based abuses; * To increase training, capacity-building and awareness-raising for all actors involved in assisting women subject to violence, including police forces, health practitioners and teachers, community volunteers and other service providers; * To provide legal aid and effective access to justice to encourage women victims of violence to seek redress; * To take legal action against perpetrators of sexual violence against women, and, in particular, investigate and prosecute members of State authorities committing rape and sexual harassment against Rohingya women... On ratifying other international human rights treaties: * To accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; * To become a State Party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women; and, * To accede to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and other relevant human rights instruments."
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Arakan Project
Format/size: pdf (1.3MB)
Date of entry/update: 07 July 2016

Title: Stateless at Sea: The Moken of Burma and Thailand
Date of publication: 25 June 2015
Description/subject: "One of the few remaining hunter-gatherer populations in Southeast Asia, the Moken have made the sea their home. Foraging food from oceans and forests, trading fish and shells for other necessities, and traveling by boat across the waters of southern Burma and Thailand, the Moken have maintained a self-sufficient, nomadic way of life along the Andaman coast for hundreds of years. Approximately 3,000 Moken live around and on the 800 islands of the Mergui Archipelago along Burma’s southern coast, while an estimated 800 Moken are currently settled in Thailand. The Moken have lived in this area since at least the 18th century, though over time they have traversed the entire Andaman Sea.2 Most Moken spend their daily lives on small, covered wooden boats, called kabang. The Moken’s hunter-gatherer lifestyle relies on men, women, and children each playing roles in community subsistence, taking only the resources they require for survival and making minimal impact on the natural environment. Usually catching enough for their consumption and trade, Moken men use harpoons and, more recently, nets to catch fish. Moken women and children collect crustaceans and shells during low tide on beaches.3 When trading goods with land-based communities, the Moken usually work through middlemen operating in port towns along the Andaman.4 The Moken face deepening poverty, marginalization, and discrimination. Most are stateless, making them more vulnerable to human rights abuses and depriving them of access to other rights, including the medical care, education, and employment opportunities that Thai and Burmese nationals enjoy. Tightening immigration and maritime conservation laws restrict the Mokens’ freedom of movement, threatening their traditional lifestyle. In addition to government distrust and discrimination, the Moken often face exploitation from land-based communities, but are unable to seek redress through national laws and policies. In recent years, more Moken have decided to reside permanently in Thailand and Burma. Both governments should act to protect and promote the Moken’s basic rights, including taking steps to provide them with citizenship..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Format/size: pdf (2.2MB-reduced version; 3.2MB-original)
Alternate URLs: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/06/25/stateless-sea/moken-burma-and-thailand
Date of entry/update: 25 June 2015

Title: Burning Homes, Sinking Lives - A situation report on violence against stateless Rohingya in Myanmar and their refoulement from Bangladesh
Date of publication: 02 July 2012
Description/subject: "...this report documents the severity of the human rights abuses suffered by Rohingya within Myanmar – including mass violence, killings and attacks, the burning and destruction of property, arbitrary arrests, detention and disappearances, the deprivation of emergency healthcare and humanitarian aid. Such human rights abuses are being carried out with impunity by civilians and agents of the state alike. The organised and widespread nature of this state sponsored violence raises serious questions of crimes against humanity being committed by Myanmar. This report also documents the refoulement of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and related human rights violations, including the push-back of boats carrying Rohingya into dangerous waters and the failure to provide refuge, shelter and humanitarian aid to those fleeing persecution. Historically, the Rohingya have faced acute discrimination and human rights abuse in Myanmar, and Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution to Bangladesh have faced severe hardships including the lack of humanitarian aid, shelter and security. This present crisis is a tragic reminder of the vulnerabilities of stateless people when their countries of habitual residence and the international community fail to protect them. Urgent action is required to end the violence, protect the victims and bring those responsible to justice. Of equal importance is the need for a long-term process of reinstating Myanmar nationality to Rohingya who were arbitrarily deprived of a nationality in 1982, resolving ethnic conflicts and protecting the human rights and freedoms of Rohingya within Myanmar and in other countries. The Equal Rights Trust makes the following urgent and long-term recommendations to the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh and to the UNHCR and international community..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Equal Rights Trust
Format/size: pdf (1.4MB-OBL version; 2.26MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.equalrightstrust.org/ertdocumentbank/The%20Equal%20Rights%20Trust%20-%20Burning%20Homes%...
Date of entry/update: 03 July 2012

Title: North Arakan: an open prison for the Rohingya in Burma
Date of publication: April 2009
Description/subject: "Many minorities, including the Rohingya of Burma, are persecuted by being rendered stateless...Hundreds of thousands have fled to Bangladesh and further afield to escape oppression or in order to survive. There were mass exoduses to Bangladesh in 1978 and again in 1991-92. Each time, international pressure persuaded Burma to accept them back and repatriation followed, often under coercion. But the outflow continues. The Rohingya are an ethnic, linguistic and religious minority group mainly concentrated in North Arakan (or ‘Rakhine’) State in Burma, adjacent to Bangladesh, where their number is estimated at 725,000. Of South Asian descent, they are related to the Chittagonian Bengalis just across the border in Bangladesh, whose language is also related. They profess Sunni Islam and are distinct from the majority Burmese population who are of East Asian stock and mostly Buddhists. Since Burma’s independence in 1948, the Rohingya have gradually been excluded from the process of nation-building..."
Author/creator: Chris Lewa
Language: English
Source/publisher: Forced Migration Review No. 32
Format/size: pdf (486K)
Date of entry/update: 20 February 2010

Title: We have no soil under our feet
Date of publication: April 2009
Description/subject: "In the muddy setting of an overcrowded camp in Bangladesh, Jhora Shama tells me her story. Jhora is an unregistered refugee, a Rohingya, who has been living illegally in Bangladesh for 16 years. She fled to Bangladesh from Arakan [Rakhine] State in Burma after her family’s farm was ransacked, their livestock confiscated and her husband tortured. He now works in Malaysia and sends money to her but it is never enough and her family often goes to bed fighting hunger pains. Because she lives in Bangladesh illegally, she cannot work and must go out to beg for money. She hopes to find a family to take her children as housekeepers because there is no food here..."
Author/creator: Kristy Crabtree
Language: English, Français, Español, Russian, Arabic
Source/publisher: Forced Migration Review No. 32
Format/size: pdf (323K)
Date of entry/update: 20 February 2010

Date of publication: October 2008
Description/subject: SUBMISSION TO THE COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW) For the Examination of the combined 2nd and 3rd periodic State party Reports (CEDAW/C/MMR/3) -MYANMAR-....."...Rohingya women and girls suffer from the devastating consequences of brutal government policies implemented against their minority group but also from socio-religious norms imposed on them by their community, the combined impact of which dramatically impinges on their physical and mental well-being, with long-term effects on their development. a) State-sponsored persecution: The 1982 Citizenship Law renders the Rohingya stateless, thereby supporting arbitrary and discriminatory measures against them. Their freedom of movement is severely limited; they are barred from government employment; marriage restrictions are imposed on them; they are disproportionately subject to forced labour, extortion and other coercive measures. Public services such as health and education are appallingly neglected. Illiteracy is estimated at 80%. The compounded impact of these human right violations also results in household impoverishment and food insecurity, increasing the vulnerability of women and children....Rohingya women and girls are also subject to serious gender-based restrictions due to societal attitudes and conservative interpretation of religious norms in their male-dominated community. The birth of a son is always favoured. Girls’ education is not valued and they are invariably taken out of school at puberty. Women and adolescent girls are usually confined to their homes and discouraged from participating in the economic sphere. They are systematically excluded from decision-making in community matters. Divorced women and widows are looked down upon, exposed to sexual violence and abandoned with little community support..."
Author/creator: Chris Lewa
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Arakan Project
Format/size: pdf (179K)
Date of entry/update: 30 January 2009

Title: Lives on Hold - The Human Costs of Statelessness
Date of publication: February 2005
Description/subject: "Lives on Hold: The Human Costs of Statelessness is Refugees International's new 50-page report that highlights the difficulties faced by an estimated 11 million individuals worldwide who have no citizenship or effective nationality. These stateless people are international orphans who have fallen through the cracks of the United Nations. They regularly cannot participate in the political process of any country and are guaranteed no legal protections. Because of their status, millions of stateless people have difficulty in obtaining jobs and owning property, receive inadequate access to healthcare and education, and suffer sexual and physical violence. The report documents the human costs of the problem in more than 70 countries with particular emphasis on groups in Bangladesh, Estonia and the United Arab Emirates, and provides recommendations to the international community on what must be done by the UN, individual states and donor governments like the United States."
Author/creator: M. Lynch
Language: English
Source/publisher: Refugees International
Format/size: pdf (1.49MB)
Date of entry/update: 16 February 2005

Date of publication: November 2003
Description/subject: SUBMISSION TO THE COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD For the Examination of the 2nd periodic State Party Report of Myanmar... Conclusion: "Rohingya children bear the full brunt of the military regime’s policies of exclusion and discrimination towards the Muslim population of Rakhine State. The combination of the factors listed above, which deny them fundamental human rights, gravely damage their childhood development and will affect the future of the Rohingya community. With regard to Rohingya children, the State Peace and Development Council has failed to implement most of the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Myanmar ratified in 1991. The Government has also ignored the suggestions and recommendations provided by the Committee in 1997, in particular, paragraph 28 in which “The Committee recommends that the Citizenship Act be repealed” and paragraph 34 which stated: “In the field of the right to citizenship, the Committee is of the view that the State Party should, in light of articles 2 (non-discrimination) and 3 (best interests of the child), abolish the categorization of citizens …” and that “all possibility of stigmatisation and denial of rights recognized by the Convention should be avoided”"
Author/creator: Chris Lewa
Language: English
Source/publisher: Forum Asia
Format/size: pdf (151.35 KB) html (280K) , Word (224K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Lewa-CRC2004.doc
Date of entry/update: 17 July 2010

Title: Bangladesh-Myanmar Relations and the Stateless Rohingyas
Date of publication: June 2001
Description/subject: "I have lately been disturbed by two developments. Firstly, at the very moment when 'realism' has lost its post-Westphalian glories and is suffering from disrepute, the stateless people continue to be at the mercy of the state. In the case of the Rohingyas it is even more pathetic for their refuge across the border brought no change to their sufferings. On the contrary, as camped and non-camped refugees, they ended up becoming victims of yet another state power, this time of Bangladesh. Secondly, when the power of the state has been eroded considerably, particularly in the wake of misgovernance and globalization, the state is brought in to resolve the issue of statelessness. Indeed, the Rohingyas were sent home, amidst criticism of 'involuntary' repatriation, with the hope that the government of Myanmar (GOM) after over half-a-century would change its position and make them all worthy citizens of Myanmar. What we have is a representation of a dialectic in the constitution of the state, that is, state as usurper and state as salvation, without of course realizing that the former cancels the latter and vice versa. It is against this background that I intend to discuss the Bangladesh-Myanmar relations and that again, from the standpoint of the stateless Rohingyas. Two questions, I believe, are pertinent. One, how do stateless people view the state/s? And two, what impact does the stateless people have on the state-to-state relationship? Few will dispute that the discussion requires a sound understanding of the 'stateless,' which in our case are the Rohingyas..."
Author/creator: Imtiaz Ahmed
Language: English
Format/size: html (26K)
Date of entry/update: 10 July 2003

Title: The Rohingya: Forced Migration and Statelessness
Date of publication: 28 February 2001
Description/subject: "Forced Migration in the South Asian Region: Displacement, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution" Paper submitted for publication in a book edited by Omprakash Mishra on "Forced Migration in South Asian Region", Centre for Refugee studies Jadavpur University, Calcutta and Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement. "In the eyes of the media and the general public, whether in Bangladesh or further afield, the situation of the Rohingya from Burma[ii] is usually referred to as a ?refugee problem?. Over the last two decades, Bangladesh has born the brunt of two mass exoduses, each of more then 200,000 people, placing them among the largest in Asia. Each of these massive outflows of refugees was followed by mass repatriation to Burma. Repatriation has been considered the preferred solution to the refugee crisis. However, this has not proved a durable solution, since the influx of Rohingyas over international borders has never ceased. And it is unlikely that it will stop, so long as the root causes of this unprecedented exodus are not effectively remedied. The international community has often focussed its attention on the deplorable conditions in the refugee camps in Bangladesh, rather than on the root causes of the problem, namely the denial of legal status and other basic human rights to the Rohingya in Burma. This approach doubtless stems from the practical difficulty of confronting an intractable military regime which refuses to recognise the Rohingya as citizens of Burma, and of working out solutions acceptable to all parties involved. The actual plight and continuous exodus of the Rohingya people has been rendered invisible. Though they continue to cross international borders, they are also denied the right of asylum, being labelled ?economic migrants?. The international community has preferred to ignore the extent of this massive forced migration, which has affected not only Bangladesh, but also other countries such as Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, etc..."
Author/creator: Chris Lewa
Language: English
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Stateless and unregistered children
Date of publication: 1998
Description/subject: Box 6.4 of the chapter on Statelessness and Citizenship from the 1997 "The State of the World's Refugees". "In most countries, babies are registered with the relevant authorities soon after they are born, enabling them to receive a birth certificate. Without such a certificate, it can be very difficult for a person to lay claim to a nationality or to exercise the rights associated with citizenship. Individuals who lack a birth certificate may, for example, find it impossible to leave or return to their own country, register as a voter or gain access to public health and education services..." Includes a para on the Rohingyas.
Language: English
Source/publisher: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003