ISSUES TO BE RAISED CONCERNING
THE SITUATION OF
For the Examination of the 2nd periodic State Party Report
ISSUES TO BE RAISED CONCERNING THE SITUATION OF
FORUM-ASIA wishes to draw the attention
of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to the situation of Rohingya
The Rohingya: Exclusion and discrimination
The Muslim population of
Rohingya children, in particular, are innocent victims suffering from the debilitating consequences of these government policies, which dramatically affect their physical and mental development, and will have long-lasting effects for the future of the Rohingya community.
The following points are some of the issues of concern to be raised with regard to fundamental human rights denied to Rohingya children and enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, under which the Government of Myanmar has international obligations.
1. Right to a nationality
Rohingya children are born stateless.
Rohingyas have been rendered stateless through the
Citizenship Act of 1982, which states that citizens are those belonging to one
of 135 “national races”, among which the Rohingyas do
not feature, or those whose ancestors settled in the country before 1823, the
start of the British colonisation of
The Citizenship Act was promulgated shortly after the repatriation of 1978, and was clearly aimed at excluding the Rohingya from citizenship rights. Their present legal status amounts, in international law, to de facto statelessness.
Rohingya children are therefore discriminated against on the basis of their ethnicity from birth and are deprived of the rights inherent to citizenship. Despite efforts by UNHCR to address their lack of status with the Myanmar Immigration authorities, no progress has been achieved to date.
The right to citizenship is fundamental to the enjoyment of other rights. As a consequence of their statelessness, Rohingya children face discrimination with regard to education, health care and employment.
In addition, a series of measures has been
imposed to control birth and to limit expansion of the Rohingya population. Unlike other people of Myanmar, Rohingya
couples must apply for permission to get married, which is only granted in
exchange for high bribes and can take up to several years to obtain. To register their children’s birth, parents
are charged fees that have significantly increased since 2002.
2. Right to be free from forced labour
As documented by the ILO in early 2003,
forced labour is far from being eradicated in
Children are particularly affected by forced labour in
3. Right to freedom of movement
Rohingya children and their parents need permission to travel to another village.
children as well as their parents are subject to severe restriction of
movement. They are virtually confined to
their village tracts. They need to apply
for a travel pass even to visit a neighbouring village, which their parents
have to pay for. Since February 2001,
Sittwe, the capital city of
4. Right to food
to food through a series of constraints is the main strategy of the military
regime to encourage departure and is a major root cause of the ongoing exodus
More than 60%
of the Rohingya children in
5. Right to health
Due to their lack of freedom of movement, Rohingya children and their parents face restrictions in reaching health services. Moreover, geographical and infrastructure constraints further reduce accessibility and some remote areas remain completely isolated during the rainy season.
there is a general neglect of the available facilities. Health care is almost non-existent outside
the towns and large villages. In
prevalence of chronic malnutrition (60%) among Rohingya children in
6. Right to education
Most village tracts have at least one primary school (1 to 4th Standard) but in remote areas access is impaired by distance and lack of communication during the rainy season. But widespread poverty keeps many children out of school, as they need to contribute to the survival of their family. At most, parents will send their children for religious education in madrassah and maktab to learn the Koran in Arabic. Moreover, teaching is only imparted in Burmese language, which most children do not speak.
Only 35 middle
schools (5th to 8th Standard) and 6 high schools (9th
and 10th Standard) are available in Maungdaw
higher education is even more restricted.
Sittwe has the only university in
Education levels are
also worsened by the lack of teachers in rural areas and the poor quality of
teaching. International agencies have
engaged in improving educational facilities by rehabilitating government-run
schools and have also organised teachers’ training courses. However, Rohingya teachers, being denied
citizenship, cannot be employed as civil servants, and are not allowed to teach
in government schools. In some areas
they have been able to teach but in such cases they were paid either by
international organisations or by the villagers themselves in paddy. In
children bear the full brunt of the military regime’s policies of exclusion and
discrimination towards the Muslim population of
With regard to
Rohingya children, the State Peace and Development Council has failed to
implement most of the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the
With reference to the provisions of the Convention and the Concluding Observations adopted by the Committee in January 1997 (CRC/C/15/Add. 69),
FORUM-ASIA recommends that the Committee urge the Government of Myanmar:
- To amend or repeal the 1982
Citizenship Act, with the effect of granting citizenship and accompanying
rights, to the Muslim population of
- To end all discriminatory policies and practices towards this population in order to create an environment conducive to children’s development.
Submitted by Chris Lewa, Researcher
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
 In this report,
 The term “Rohingya” to refer to the Muslim population of
 In relation to ILO Liaison Officer’s visit to Northern Rakhine State in January 2003, the ILO Governing Body report GB.286/6 of March 2003 stated in paragraph 7: “While it is her impression that there is probably less use of forced labour in central parts of Myanmar, the situation in areas near to the Thai border where there is continuing insecurity and a heavy presence of the army, as well as in northern Rakhine State, is particularly serious and appears to have changed little.”
 The NaSaKa is the Border Administration Force and comprises five different government agencies: the police, military intelligence (MI), Lone Htein (riot police), customs, and immigration.