Fri 29 Jun 2007
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
The Burmese government has reportedly stepped up efforts to issue identification cards to ethnic minority civilians in preparation for a referendum tipped to happen after the National Convention ends.
Sources from cease-fire groups have told DVB that civilians living in government-controlled areas are now being told that they can apply for ID cards and that the processing time will be just one day.
Naing Aung Ma Ngae, spokesperson for the New Mon State Party, said that the government appeared to trying to keep record of the civilian population in the group’s cease-fire area for the first time.
â€œNow people are saying that the idea of issuing ID cards and collecting house-hold data is to make it possible for everyone to participate in an upcoming referendum,â€ Naing Aung Ma Ngae.
â€œWe give the government the details of our troop population every year, but this is the first time that we have given them the details of the civilians in our area.â€
The order to step up efforts to issue the ID cards was reportedly laid down by the Ministry of Immigration and Population last weekend and was relayed to cease-fire groups via regional military offices.
Vetern politician Amyotharyay Win Naing said that while it was normal for the military to launch identification drives every few years, the scale of the current program suggested that the government was preparing for a referendum.
â€œThey have boosted their efforts and that leads us to assume that they are trying to make it easier for people to vote in elections,â€ Amyotharyay Win Naing said.
â€œBut still it is too early to predict anything because they can extend the time limit to any length they want. For the time being, they still haven’t finished the draft of the constitution,â€ he said.