by M.S. Anwar
October 7, 2013
What immediately comes to your mind when you hear terms such as “a travel permit ” or “a stay or residence permit?” A travel permit may be a document that a citizen of a particular country requires to travel to a foreign country. Similarly, a residence permit is a permit document issued to a foreigner for stay in a particular country. Except for travelling to some restricted zones, hardly does any citizen of a country in any a part of the world need a travel document to travel other parts of his/her own country and stay-permit to stay within the country’s border. Nevertheless, since 1990, Myanmar authority has been imposing a severe travel restriction on Rohingya community in western Myanmar in order to confine them within their own villages ot townships, or Arakan state, the largest area within which Rohingya people can dream of moving around.
Post 1990, the governtment has stopped issuing travel-pass to Rohingyas to travel to capital city, Yangon, even in case of life-threatening emergencies. Post 2000, government even stopped giving student-pass to Rohingya students who had to travel to Yangon to pursue their tertiary education. All Rohingya students were forced to study at the university of Sittwe. However, even obtaining a travel pass for Sittwe university became a hill-task for Rohingya students. It used to take days and months on top of money extortion and harrassments by immigration authority.
Nonetheless, since June 2012 violence, the government has completely denied thousands of Rohingya students of university education even at Sittwe university. Consequently, the number of university-entrance-passed students denied of further study are increasing year by year rendering their future in limbo. To make the things worse, nowadays, Rohingya students are forced to take a travel pass and a stay-permit to travel and stay at other parts of their respective townships.
There are only few High Schools in Maung Daw Township. So are in Buthidaung township. Thus, many students from rural areas travel to urban areas where high schools are located, where there are better better access to tutions, books and other educational materials. To travel to the urban areas, Rohingya students are bound to take monthly travel pass from their respective village administrators. Again, they are required to take stay-permits from the village administrators where they stay for study. Miserably, they have to renew the stay-permit every week paying Kyat 500 each time (Kyat 2,000 in a month). Unquestionably, it has become a discomfort for the poor students.
However, charging any money by a village administrator for issuing or extending stay-permit is itself illegal according to Section 33, Chapter 15, Quarter/Village Administration Act 2012. The act was approved by the President Thein Sein on 22nd February 2012. Now, administration at the lower level of the government are happy to violate an act approved by the country’ presdent himself. What a government! Indeed, it was/is nothing new in the former junta government or the current pseudo-civilian government to practice against the rules they themselves write on paper.
On one hand, as stated-above, different governments of Myanmar through historical periods have been behind systematically making most of the Rohingya people illeterate and uneducated. On the other hand, President Thein Sein is playing insane by blaming Rohingyas’ low literacy rate to be the cause of violence (in fact, a violence manufactured by Myanmar government itself).
It is known fact that Thein Sein and officials in his government are a bunch of oxymorons, pahthological liars, sociopaths or whatever you name them, the reality is that Rohingya students are facing a miserable time due to the systematic and institutional barriers set up against their education.
And this is just a tragic account of Rohingyas’ lives!
Written by M.S. Anwar based on the report by Sindhi Khan in Arakan. M.S. Anwar can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org