Myanmar rejects citizenship reform at private Rohingya talks


A senior Myanmar official has told Western diplomats that a proposal to review a citizenship law that effectively renders most Rohingya Muslims stateless could not be implemented, five people present at the meeting in Denmark in early June told Reuters.
At a meeting in Copenhagen on June 8, Myanmar’s Social Welfare Minister Win Myat Aye told a group of diplomats, analysts and members of a commission chaired by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan that eight of its recommendations – including one that asks authorities to take steps to amend the 1982 law – were problematic in the current political climate and could not be immediately fulfilled, the people present said.
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Myanmar burnt $19.7 million worth of illicit narcotics, while Thailand destroyed drugs worth $400 million in the annual event marking the anti-drug movement.“He made it very clear that citizenship reform was a non-starter,” said one of the people at the meeting. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Myanmar had requested the talks be confidential.Win Myat Aye and government spokesman Zaw Htay did not answer calls seeking comment.Amending the law, which largely restricts citizenship to members of what it terms “national races” – the 135 ethnic groups deemed by the state to be indigenous – was a key recommendation of the Annan commission.Buddhist-majority Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as an indigenous ethnic group and refers to them as “Bengalis”, a term they reject as it implies they are interlopers from Bangladesh, despite a long history in the country.The Annan commission was created by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2016 to find long-term solutions to deep-seated ethnic and religious divisions in Rakhine.