Myanmar National Unity Government (NUG) Release Statement Recognising Rohingya’s Right to Citizenship

Nicole Jagonase, Projects Officer

2 Jun 2021

The NLD administration has itself been complicit in the sustained denial of citizenship rights to Rohingya people since the 1982 Citizenship Law. They promised that citizenship would instead be based on birth in Myanmar, or birth anywhere to a Myanmar citizen. Furthermore, the NUG also declared that they would safely repatriate the Rohingya who were forced to flee the military violence whilst “actively seek[ing] justice and accountability for all crimes committed by the military against the Rohingya”.

Up to 900,000 Rohingya are cooped up in squalid and overflowing refugee camps in Bangladesh following the genocidal campaign of rape, murder and torture by the military in 2017. To the dismay of the international community, these targeted military attacks which led to an exodus of over 750,000 Rohingya was later defended by Aung San Suu Kyi, then leader of the NLD, in 2019 upon her travels to The Hague, claiming against allegations of genocide. This visit caused uproar as it confirmed the overall treatment of the minority group in Myanmar: unrecognised, persecuted and abandoned.

In recent times however, attitudes are allegedly changing among the political elites, as they claim to unify the broken State. Seeing as this serves their political agenda to gain international recognition, the NUG were prompted to release such statement following challenges by the international community on whether it will recognise the citizenship and rights of the Rohingya people.

“The entire people of Burma is sympathetic to the plight of the Rohingya as all now experience atrocities and violence perpetrated by the military,” said the NUG.

At least 845 have lost their lives to the military onslaught since February 1, with thousands remaining in detention. With the rise of armed civilian groups opposing the junta - escalating fears of a full-blown civil war - the NUG have urged the Rohingya to join with them in fighting against the military.

It remains to be seen whether the Rohingya people will set aside decades of oppression and neglect from Myanmar’s governments to face a common enemy, in exchange for rights that they have been owed but have been excluded from for centuries.

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