Thursday, March 22, 2012

82 - All Burmese Citizens to be Issued ID Cards for Election

All Burmese Citizens to be Issued ID Cards for Election

Narinjara News, Maungdaw: Burma's immigration department has plans to issue ID cards to everyone who is living in Burma so they will be able to vote in this year's election, reports a source from the immigration department in Maungdaw.

Burma is holding an election this year after two decades, and the military government is pushing for a high voter turnout. Because of that, the government is arranging to issue ID cards to all Burmese people.

"We have plans to issue some kind of ID cards to those people who are living in Burma, until 31 October, so they can vote in the upcoming election. Everyone who is 18 years or older will get at least one ID card for the election," the official said.

Burma's immigration department currently issues five kinds of ID cards to Burmese residents, which are: the National ID Card, the Scrutinized Citizen Card, the Foreign Citizen Card, the Temporary National ID Card, and another card called "Pyu Naingan Tha" in Burmese.

Of those five cards, the immigration department has been issuing Temporary National ID cards in white to the Muslim community in Arakan State. This white card lists the bearer's race as Muslim and their religion as Islam. On the back is a note in Burmese stating that the cardholder does not have the right to claim Burmese citizenship.

A Muslim businessman from Maungdaw said, "The white ID card is not for Burmese citizens, so we need another ID card with citizen status. Deputy Home Minister Phone Swe told us when he visited Maugndaw to issue ID cards in pink to Muslims in northern Arakan, but we have not received the cards yet."

The government authority has arranged to issue new ID cards to the Muslim community in Arakan State in an effort to gain Muslims' support for the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party in the election.

All Burmese, regardless of their current status, will get at least one officially recognized ID card this year before the election, but the authority has been using the ID cards to garner support for the government-backed parties in the election.

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