More than 40,000 Rohingya children in northern Arakan are blacklisted and have been deprived of rights to travel, go to school because of their parents had an unauthorized marriage, according to Arakan Project report on Issues to be raised concerning the situation of Stateless Rohingya children in Myanmar (Burma) on January 2012, submitted to the UN Committee on the rights of the child.
These blacklisted children are refused birth registration, and no permitted to enlist in the family list and get hidden during the authorities’ population checks, said the report.
A local schoolteacher from Maungadaw town said that Rohingya kids are blacklisted by the following reasons, they are: a). After a few months of legal marriage, husband went to abroad and the wife gave birth to a child in the absence of husband. The kid will become in black list. b). Wife gave birth to a child after legal marriage, but father and mother are not in one family list, they are separated family list. As a result, the concerned authority refused to enlist the child in birth registration list, so it was not included in the family list of either father’s or mother’s family list. c). Before Nasaka’s establishment in north Arakan, mother gave birth to a child and the parents were late to inform the list of their child to the Nasaka to enlist in the family list, after establishing Nasaka in 1990 in northern Arakan. But, the child was not enlisted in the family list .d). Parents informed about their new born child to the local Nasaka to enlist their child, but Nasaka deliberately made late to enlist the child in the family list. So, later the child became in the black list, and e) the new born child was enlisted in the family list of grandfather of father relatives (Dada) or grandfather of mother relatives (Nana) because of absence of his/her father. Father of the child is in abroad, so the child was put in the black list. f) After illegal marriage (without getting permission from the local authority), the couple gave birth to a child. But, he married the girl according to the Islamic law. Later, this news was reached to the Nasaka camp. So, father was arrested and sentenced to jail. But the child was put in the blacklist because of illegal marriage.
“All Rohingya children suffer complete discrimination with regard to education, health care and access to food,” the report said.
The report says that hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas scattered in abroad such as— Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and the Middle East— following exoduses in the past few decades.
Families with blacklisted children also suffer from “unending extortion” by local authorities because the parents can be arrested for hosting an unregistered guest, the report added.
According to The Arakan Project, Rohingyas need official authorization to marry and the authorities can take several years to grant it and marriage without authorization or cohabitation is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
The concerned authorities have started a process of registering these children since last two months, but some parents fear this is a tactic to prosecute them for unauthorized marriage, The Arakan Project said.
Rohingya children in Burma are exposed to preventable diseases due to chronic malnutrition and a lack of access to healthcare, while many are subjected to forced labor. Rohingya villagers have to pay forced labor in the camps of Nasaka and army— such as carrying water, collecting fire wood, washing their clothes, building roads, renovation of camps, growing paddy and vegetables in the camp, and collecting bamboos from the forest.
Four in every five Rohingyas in Burma are illiterate, the report said. The main reason for Rohingya children are not attending schools because of widespread poverty as children must contribute to the family income, it said.
“Forced labor has a severe economic impact, driving down the poor already surviving hand-to-mouth into hopeless poverty, exposing children to hunger and malnutrition,” the report said.
Burma’s nominally civilian government, which took power last year after half a century military rule, has surprised both its citizens and foreign countries with the speed of its reforms.
However, “deeply discriminatory policies” against the Rohingyas remain. The authorities justify these policies as illegal immigration management and population control, said Chris Lewa, the head of The Arakan Project
Consistently referred to as ‘illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,’ Myanmar’s Rohingyas are deprived of one of the most basic human rights – the right to identification.
“Rohingya children, in particular, bear the full brunt of the devastating impact of these (discriminatory) policies, which gravely impair their physical and mental development as children and will affect the long-term future of their community,” the report said.
At present, some of the blacklisted Rohingya children are listed to their parents’ family lists, but, the authority extorted Kyat 10,000 per head. If the parents are very poor, the authority takes two big cocks. Until now, the authority listed about 6,000 kids and was provided a card per each. There are over 50,000Rohingya blacklisted kids in northern Arakan, said a village elder preferring not to be named.