The Myanmar authorities have collected about 40,000 temporary identification cards from displaced and stateless Rohingya Muslims in restive Rakhine State, part of the process of applying for citizenship, reports Radio Free Asia on April 6.
An immigration officer in the state capital Sittwe told RFA that more than 10,000 of the “white cards” were being collected daily in the western Myanmar state, following a declaration by President U Thein Sein in February that they would expire on March 31.
The controversial move came about because of a bill that would have allowed white card holders to vote in a referendum on constitutional amendments, which drew sharp opposition from Buddhist nationalists.
Most of the temporary identification card holders are Rohingya, a Muslim minority of around 1 million people who live in Rakhine State. The Myanmar government refers to them as “Bengali” because it views them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although many have lived in the country for generations.