BGP seizes white cards in Maungdaw

Maungdaw, Arakan State:  Burma’s Border Guard Police (BGP) has been seizing white cards from Rohingya people while travelling within the Township since February 12 in Maungdaw Township, said Nasim (not real name) for security reason.  “On February 12, in the evening, a Rohingya named Hafez Abul Khasim (48), son of Sayed Hussain, hailed from Maung Nama village was halted at BGP Headquarters gate while returning home by car from Maungdaw north.  The BGP personnel checked him and seized his white card because of “Muslim” in the race or nationality in place of “Bengali.” The BGP personnel did not seize white card, in which written” Bengali” in the Colum of race.”

After seizing the card, the BGP personnel demanded Kyat 1,000 for his white card to return, but he did not pay money, Ashique, a close relative of the victim said.

However, the following day, the victim Hafez Abul Khasim went to the BGP camp to take his white card, but the BGP personnel destroyed it in front of him. Within Maungdaw Township, travelling without white card is restricted for Rohingya, the relative more added.

The BGP personnel daily seize about 20 white cards from Rohingya people in Maungdaw Township while travelling. As a result, Rohingyas become document less, and will face difficulties for travelling, Younous, a youth from the locality said.

The incidents are happening after the President Thein Sein’s announcement that the white cards expire at the end of March 30, 2015, according to a statement from the office of President Thein Sein, on Feb 11.

In 1995 and 2009, the Burmese authorities started issuing Rohingyas with a temporary Registration Card (TRC) – white card, in the place of the National Identity card –issued to Rohingya after Burma get independent from England. The TRC cards are good for five years and the government has promised that they will be exchanged for permanent citizenship cards after 2010 general elections, according to Aung Htoo of the Burma Lawyers’ Council.

Rohingya people were forced to accept the white card with the name of “Bengali”. But earlier, the concerned authority issued NRC card (National Identity Card) with the name of “Muslim” and some were with the name of “Rohingya” in the race, according to local elders.

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