Myanmar 31 Mar 2014 10:33
Burma - In the volatile Arakan State, thousands Muslim Rohingyas have been displaced since two years, following deadly violences.
Tensions could rise again as the authorities started a controversial nationwide census in march 2014, a census laying into the hands of extremist Buddhist nationalists.
Nationalists have long considered Muslim as a significant threat to the dominant Buddhist faith due to their increasing population. Although it’s widely believed Muslims represent about 4% of the population, the number may be much higher, as no census had been made since 1983. Also critics have accused the government of lowering the number.
Other minorities have also deeply criticized the government census, which is running from March 30th to April the 10th. They claim it will lump them into categories and carve them into sub-tribes based on villages.
Myanmar is a multi-ethnic country. But its rulers have an history of dividing the minorities to ensure its stability. In the past both Muslims and Chinese populations were named as scape goats to curb growing resistance against the country’s rulers.
Last year, State authorities started a household survey reportedly only aimed at the Rohingya population. But the Rohingya participants were allegedly forced by the border police to illegally enter Bangladesh, making them illegal immigrants in Bangladesh. The survey led to several violent confrontations and deaths after the police had opened fire on the angry crowd.
The Rohingyas are nearly a million in the State of Arakan. Several more millions are now refugees in Bangladesh, India and other countries in South Asia. In Burma they have been stripped and denied their citizenship by the 1984 citizenship law.
After the recent violences the Rohingyas were locked up in squalid camps and saw their movements restricted. They have received barely support.