NVC scheme: Myanmar’s move to erase ‘Rohingya’ community

Cox’sBazar: In a new move targeting Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, the authorities have come up with the National Verification Card (NVC) scheme to erase their identity suggests a new report by Fortify Rights.

The organization says the NVC process and denial of citizenship initiated last year fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in its probe into crimes against the minority group, Al- Jazeera reports.

“The Myanmar government is trying to destroy the Rohingya people through an administrative process that effectively strips them of basic rights,” said Matthew Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Fortify Rights.

“This process and its impacts lie at the root of the Rohingya crisis, and until it’s addressed, the crisis will continue,” his statement added.

The Fortify Rights report: Tools of Genocide: The alleged “citizenship scrutiny” process have limited the Rohingya Muslims rights including freedom of movement, access to education and livelihoods and freedom of expression.

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“The NVC process is just another reiteration of discriminatory cards that have been given out over the years to the Rohingya,” said the reports author and a human rights specialist John Quinley III.

Only people belonging to one of 135 national ethnic groups identified are accorded citizenship under Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law.

People settled in Myanmar before 1824 are considered by the authorities.

“Despite generations of residence in Myanmar, the Rohingya are not considered to be amongst these official indigenous races and are thus effectively excluded from full citizenship,” the report added.

“I was beaten everywhere – my head, back, chest, and all over my body to accept the NVC, ” said a 62-year-old Rohingya farmer.

The evidence has suggested that these efforts are to destroy the Rohingya as a group.

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The United Nations Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar also found an increase in pressure on the Rohingya to accept the NVC in the months leading up to August 2017.

The report noted that Border Guard Police and Myanmar Army soldiers have held a “series of more targeted and aggressive meetings” with Rohingya elders in mid-August 2017 to force the residents to accept NVCs. 

“The first question on this form is, ‘When did you come from Bangladesh’, followed by ‘Why did you come’ and ‘Who was the chairman in your village in Bangladesh?'” reveals a Rohingya refugee who has been in Kutupalong refugee camp since 2017.

“How can we answer these questions? It means they are automatically putting us in a cage. This is why people are not willing to go back,” he said.

“According to the 1982 Citizenship Law there is no mention of NVC, but the Myanmar government is trying to destroy the Rohingya community with this card,” added another. 

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