|Rakhine State is the home to most of Myanmar's white card holders. A trishaw drives along the main road during the curfew time following communal violence in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, June 17, 2012. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA|
Temporary ID card or white card holders in Rakhine State say they will hand over their white cards to the relevant authorities only if they get a similar ID card to take the place of the white cards.
Last week two seemingly unrelated events attracted the attention of this writer. The first was the announcement in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar that the temporary ID documents known as white cards will expire at the end of March and those who hold them will lose their voting rights.
|A woman carries a placard during a protest over what is claimed to be the government's ambiguous position over "white card" holders, in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, February 15, 2015. Photo: Nyunt Win/EPA|
Residents in 17 townships in Rakhine State staged a protest on February 15 against what they termed the 'ambiguous statement' by the government on temporary citizen identity cards.
|US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Mr Tom Malinowski (L) and National League for Democracy Chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (R) meet in Nay Pyi Taw on January 15, 2015. Photo: NLD|
A tops US official has stepped into the controversy over the Myanmar government’s invalidation of temporary ID cards, saying the move did not help with reconciliation.
|A Rakhine woman reads a campaign flyer saying "We don't accept parliament decision on White Card issue" in front of a shop in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, February 6, 2015. Nationalist groups including Buddhist monks in Myanmar had expressed opposition to an earlier parliament decision granting people without full Myanmar citizenship the chance to vote in a referendum, a decision overturned February 11 when the government announced the withdrawal of white ID cards by March 31. Photo: Nyunt Win/EPA|
The Myanmar government issued a statement on February 11 saying temporary ID cards will expire on March 31, effectively blocking those without full citizenship, including Muslim Rohingya, from voting in an upcoming constitutional referendum.