Myanmar criticised for not including Rohingyas in census
May 29, Yangon: Rights groups and activists have criticised the Myanmar government and United Nations for not recognising the Muslim Rohingya minority as an ethnic group in the country’s first nationwide census in 30 years.
Though observers praised the census – which cost $50m – released on Friday, as an important socioeconomic indicator, they said that leaving Rohingya Muslims off the list of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups is a sign that it has no intension of recognising them as citizens.
“The exclusion of the Rohingya from the census is an unacceptable capitulation by the international community to the starkly racist and repressive policies of the Burmese government,” said David Mathieson, a senior researcher on Myanmar for Human Rights Watch.
Speaking at the launching of the census, Myanmar President Thein Sein made no mention of the omission of the Rohingya, a long-persecuted community of nearly 1.3 million.
However, he defended the study, saying it was done in line with international standards.
“From the political dialogues that we will be conducting in the very near future to establish a union based on federal principles, we will certainly encounter issues of categorising and recognising the ethnic national races based on political agreements reached,” he said.
“In this respect, census data would facilitate addressing the said issues.”
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the reported total population of 51.5 million includes estimates for areas not enumerated in Rakhine, Kachin and Kayin states, a total of 1.2 million people.
The Oslo Times and Agencies