Award-winning lawyer says Rohingya must be recognized as Myanmar citizens

Press TV – An award-winning lawyer says the stateless Rohingya Muslims must be recognized as citizens of Myanmar so that they can safely stay in the country instead of fleeing abroad.

Kyaw Hla Aung, who has worked to promote the rights of the persecuted minority, demanded in an interview on Sunday that the Rohingya be given identity documents.

“We belong on this land. This government is denying our citizenship,” Aung said in a phone interview with Reuters from Armenia, where the award ceremony was held.

“We are citizens of Myanmar, so why have we become stateless?” he asked.

“We cannot keep going from our land to other countries,” said Aung, who spent 12 years in prison due to his work.

The United Nations refugee agency says the Rohingya are the biggest minority among an estimated 10 million people who are stateless.

Kyaw Hla Aung, an award-winning lawyer for the rights of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority (Reuters)

There are four million Rohingya around the world, the majority living outside their ancestral land. More than 700,000 members of the minority have fled the state-sponsored violence to Bangladesh over the past nine months.

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in January to complete the voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees by 2020, followed up by an agreement with the UN last month.

Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh and experts say a recent deal between Myanmar and the United Nations falls short of guaranteeing the Muslims’ safe return to Myanmar,