PHR Demands that Government of Burma Rescind Citizenship Law

PHR joined 30 non-governmental organizations today to call for the repeal of Burma’s Citizenship Law.

The 1982 law authorized 135 enumerated ethnic groups for citizenship, and arbitrarily stripped others of their citizenship. The organizations call for the Citizenship Law to be replaced with a law that reflects basic principles of human rights and demonstrates adherence to international treaties.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, for example, to which Burma is a party, requires states to ensure that children have the right to acquire a nationality. The Citizenship Law flouts this obligation as well as the principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states that each person has the right to nationality.

The criticism of Burma’s Citizenship Law comes at a time of crisis in Arakan State, western Burma, where religious and ethnic tension erupted into outright violence between Buddhist Arakanese and Muslim Rohingya several weeks ago.

Rohingya have been targets of systemic abuse at the hands of the Burmese government, including the inability to acquire Burmese citizenship. A new citizenship law, based on non-discrimination and equal rights, would be a first step to promoting religious and ethnic tolerance in the country.

Other groups included in today’s statement include Burma Campaign UK, Open Society Foundations, US Campaign for Burma, Chin Human Rights Organization, Altsean-Burma, Forum for Democracy in Burma, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

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