Myanmar bars Rohingya candidate from election
A Rohingya Muslim has been barred from standing in Myanmar's upcoming election, in a decision decried by rights groups as discriminatory and a symptom of the "ongoing genocide" against the persecuted minority.
A 2017 military operation drove 750,000 Rohingya out of the country into sprawling refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh, prompting genocide charges at the UN's top court. Myanmar has denied the allegations and justified the military operations as a means of rooting out terrorists.
Another 600,000 Rohingya remain in Myanmar, but most are not regarded as citizens and will have no vote, living in what Amnesty International describes as "apartheid" conditions.
Three Rohingya-led parties had hoped to field at least a dozen candidates in November's vote, according to regional watchdog Fortify Rights. But Abdul Rasheed, 58, a member of the Democracy and Human Rights Party, told journalists on Wednesday that his candidacy was rejected by the district election commission in Rakhine state capital Sittwe a day earlier.
The flight of Rohingya: Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh
Seeking refuge: a series of co-ordinated attacks by Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar security forces in the north of Myanmar's Rakhine State triggered a crackdown by Myanmar forces that has sent a stream of Rohingya villagers fleeing to Bangladesh. About 400 people have been killed in the clashes in Buddist-majority Myanmar
Mass evacuation: a Rohingya man passes a child though a barbed wire border fence on the border with Bangladesh. Myanmar accused the Rohingya insurgents of torching seven villages, one outpost, and two parts of Maungdaw town
Buddhist refugees on their way south: the crackdown by Myanmar forces also sparked a mass evacuation of thousands of Buddhist residents of the area. Tension has long been high between the Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists, leading to bloody rioting in 2012. Rakhine Buddhists, feeling unsafe after the upsurge in fighting, are moving south to the state's capital, Sittwe, where Buddhists are a majority and have greater security
No entry: Bangladeshi border guards block people from crossing. Thousands of Rohingyas have sought to flee the fighting to Bangladesh, with nearly 30,000 crossing over. Bangladesh, which is already host to more than 400,000 Rohingya said it will not accept any more refugees, despite an appeal by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for Dhaka to allow Rohingya to seek safety
Humanitarian crisis: an aid worker with an international agency in Bangladesh reports: "what we're seeing is that many Rohingya people are sick. This is because they got stuck in the border before they could enter. It's mostly women and children." The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and classified as illegal immigrants, despite claiming roots there that go back centuries
Not welcome in Bangladesh: a group of Rohingya refugees takes shelter at the Kutuupalang makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. Bangladesh's unwillingness to host more refugees became apparent in the government's plan to relocate Rohingyas to a remote island that is mostly flooded during the monsoon season
Stranded in no man's land: Rohingya children make their way through water as they try to come to the Bangladesh side from no man's land. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees are believed to be stuck at the border to Bangladesh. By Nadine Berghausen
The commission said this was because his parents were not Myanmar citizens when he was born, Rasheed said – even though he had proof his parents and grandparents were granted citizenship in 1957, four years before his birth.
"This is not in line with the law," he said, adding he would appeal the decision. "The Rohingya are being degraded so we cannot compete."
Sittwe's election commission was not immediately available to comment.
The Muslim minority has had citizenship and other rights eroded over decades.
Rasheed, who said his father worked as a Myanmar government civil servant for more than 30 years, also tried without success to stand in the country's landmark 2015 election.
"This rejection is discriminatory and not unrelated to the ongoing genocide of Rohingya," said Matthew Smith from Fortify Rights, a group for which Rasheed also consults. "The government of Myanmar must end its mass disenfranchisement of Rohingya." (AFP)