Bangladeshi policy discriminates against persecuted Burmese Muslims

Persecuted Rohingya Muslims seeking refuge in Bangladesh face a new grave threat to their safety and security: institutional discrimination in the form of a mandatory, country-wide ID card policy. The Rohingya population is the most persecuted ethnic minority of Burma. Rohingya individuals, fleeing their country from widespread and systematic persecution, do not deserve the inhumane treatment they receive in Bangladesh today. As the United Nations highlighted this week, Bangladesh’s new ID card policy will make it illegal for a person of Rohingya descent to hold employment in Bangladesh. This policy will create harsher living conditions for these persons deserving of protection, not discrimination. Under the existing system of identification in Bangladesh, over 200,000 unregistered Rohingyas were unable to enroll their children in school. PHR’s March 2010 emergency report, Stateless and Starving: Persecuted Rohingya Flee Burma and Starve in Bangladesh, assessed dire conditions faced by persecuted Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, including arbitrary arrest and forced expulsion by Bangladeshi authorities. PHR is concerned that these new, harsh identification policies may further infringe upon their basic human rights. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, only 28,000 out of some 400,000 Rohingyas in Bangladesh are recognized refugees. PHR strongly urges the Bangladeshi government to end arbitrary arrests and forced expulsions of these individuals, and to begin individual status determination of these legitimate refugees.

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