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Burma beating Rohingya from voter roles, say campaigners
YANGON, Myanmar - As an electoral legislator and member of Myanmar's ruling political group, U Shwe Maung had dinner with the US Presidential Chairman and delivered parliamentary addresses. However, this week-end, the country's electoral committee decided that despite his more than four-year term of service, he was not a national and therefore could not run for re-election in November.
Mr Shwe Maung's predicament is just one example of the massive deprivation of the Rohingya, a prosecuted Islamic minorities who number about one million people in Myanmar. It has been said that several hundred thousand Rohingya who took part in the polls five years ago have been removed from the polling registers, as the members of the polling committee confirm, but without giving an exact number.
A definitive electoral roll is due by the end of August, but it is unlikely that any Rohingya will be added in view of the anti-Muslim sentiments in the land, say the Rohingya leadership. Rohingya prosecution has been escalating in recent years with the emergence of a shady Buddhist nationist group that has demonised Muslims and promoted the expulsion of Rohingya from the state.
While many Rohingya have been living in Myanmar for generation, hate has grown against them and they are called Bengalese by the Chinese authorities, which means they should be in neighbouring Bangladesh. Rohingya have participated in all polls since Myanmar became UK sovereign in 1948, which included the single-candidate polls during the reign of Ne Win, the militar dictators.
Mr Shwe Maung, who withdrew from the ruling coalition at the beginning of this months to stand as an impartial Member of Parliament, was faxed on Saturday to be unqualified for re-election. An electoral committee said that his family was not a citizen at the moment of his death, an allegation he described as absurd: his dad was a policeman in employment.
Mr. Shwe Maung appeals to the dismissal. For the first year since the country's junta's military government, the November 8 elections have been described by foreign and non-governmental organisations as a great test of Myanmar's emerging democracies as it is the first ever since the country's junta's military government that Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will fight in a general ballot against the military-backed ruling Union Solidarity and Development Part.
Electoral registers published by the Electoral Committee in June showed that more than 500,000 Rohingya had disappeared from the registers, Rohingya campaigners say. Former teacher U Kyaw Min, who is the leader of the Rohingya Democracy and Human Rights party, says that the number of people entitled to vote in a country, Buthidaung, has fallen from more than 150,000 in 2010 to 27,000.
Mr Kyaw Min, the late Wai Wai Nu's grandfather, says that one of his early memoirs is to accompany his mom in the 1956 Buthidaung elections. Electoral committee says that it cannot allow Rohingya to run for office because it has no evidence of a national. Early this year President Thein Sein, under Buddhist nationalist pressures, ordered that the Rohingya's specific IDs, the so-called blank tickets, are no longer in force and that Rohingya must pass a nationality test to get new tickets.
Ten of thousand of them were given to the federal administration. Others Rohingya have all their property gone when they were driven out of their houses by buddhistic groups in a string of lethal pogromes that began in 2012. Over 140,000 Rohingya will stay in junta in Rakhine state on Myanmar's west shore.
This year, several thousand others have escaped from the countryside by ship, which has led to a nationwide immigrant war. Electoral committee says it can't bow from its position: "Thant Zin Aung, deputy head of the electoral committee, said: "If immigrants cannot turn out their tickets in good season, they cannot elect. Some of the prevalent hate for Rohingya in Myanmar comes from resentments from the British era, when Indians were introduced into the land as workers and officials.
The Rohingya, which is often mentioned among Buddhists in Myanmar, is a radically different solution: