The UN has called the atrocities committed in Rakhine State, Burma (Myanmar) “textbook ethnic cleansing.” It has since been responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 people and sent approximately 600,000 people fleeing for their lives to the neighboring country of Bangladesh.
The country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has recently spoken toward efforts in repatriating the Rohingya that have fled. It has come after an initial silence on her part, followed by claims that she does not even consider them citizens of Burma in the first place. Now she is offering repatriation, under two conditions: that they prove their residency by official documentation, and that the documentation coincides with the “1982 Citizenship Law.”
Let’s start with the law: the 1982 Citizenship Law has historically denied the Rohingya citizenship in the first place. Because of this law, they have often been called “resident foreigners” by the Burmese government. The law essentially grants the people of Burma citizenship in one of three categories–which are largely irrelevant, as the Rohingya are in none of these categories. The UN has repeatedly urged the Burmese government to reconsider the 1982 Citizenship Law. It’s difficult to imagine how the Rohingya crisis could be solved by a law that does not cover the Rohingya.
And even if the law did cover the Rohingya, there are plenty of other issues to deal with: