Burma’s Rohingya face an existential threat — and we must not look away.
Driving through Sittwe, the dusty provincial capital of Rahkine state in northwest Burma, you notice a small poster affixed to nearly every shop and home. In English these signs read “white card,” and they alert anyone passing by that the building’s occupant sides with recent government efforts to prevent Burma’s most threatened ethnic and religious minority group, the Rohingya, from participating in the upcoming national elections. Most of Burma’s Rohingya are, in fact, stateless, and “white card” refers to the special identity documents issued to them by the government in lieu of the papers held by Burmese citizens. A few months ago officials decided that white card holders would not be allowed to participate in the national vote scheduled for this fall — effectively excluding the overwhelming majority of Rohingya. (more…)