This report was researched and written by a BHRN team who has to remain anonymous for security reasons, and edited by Richard Potter, a researcher in BHRN, with the support of BHRN’s Executive Director Kyaw Win. BHRN is grateful to the community members who shared their stories with BHRN to make this documentation project possible.
The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) was founded in 2012 and works for human rights, minority rights and religious freedom in Burma. BHRN has played a crucial role in advocating for these principles with politicians and world leaders.
BHRN is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), and private donors. We have members across Burma and on the Thailand and Bangladeshi borders. Any information we receive is checked for credibility by experienced journalists and researchers in the organization. We publish press releases and reports after our own investigations.
As June ends, widespread statelessness among Burmese Muslim migrants will become an urgent and serious issue in neighboring Thailand, according to a new report by the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN).
Existence Denied, launched on Tuesday, highlights the insecurity faced by this community at home and in their host country. Its publication precedes a June 30 deadline set by the Thai authorities for migrant worker registration, which BHRN fears many Burmese Muslims will be unable to meet due to systematic discrimination by the Burmese authorities charged with implementing the process.
By this date, Thailand has required that all migrant workers obtain a verification of their nationality—known as a Certificate of Identity (CI)—from officials from their home country so that they can work in Thailand legally. Failure to do so will result in crushing fines, deportation, and a two-year ban on re-applying for a work permit.
Burma Human Rights Network has released a report titled “Discrimination and Corruption Plague Burmese Passport System” detailing systemic discrimination and corruption found throughout Burma’s passport office. The report details the multiple mechanisms used by the Burmese authorities to further burden the Muslim community living inside of Burma.
The authorities have forced Muslims to identify themselves as various non-Burmese nationalities on their ID cards and use these nationalities to then classify Muslims as ‘Mixed blood’. When Muslims apply for their passports faced systematic discrimination. Witnesses also reported instances of corruption where officials insisted on bribes by minority applicants to process their applications.
One of the most alarming details in the report is the use of Burma’s Special Branch intelligence police to investigate the home addresses and backgrounds of Muslim applicants for no apparent reason other than to intimidate and inconvenience them. Authorities justify this form of harassment by saying it is for security purposes.