Protest in Arakan State after claims of non citizen voters

  • Written by San Maung Than
  • Published in Arakan State

San Maung Than — Protest organizers claim that over 2,000 residents from Arakan State’s Thandwe town demonstrated earlier this month in response to what the group claims were ineligible Muslim voters being allowed to vote in last month's national election.

The protestors marched along Yadanar Road from the entrance of Thandwe to the offices of the township administrator and district administrator on December 4th, in the western state which is also known as Rakhine.

The protestors called for the government to disqualify ballots cast by what they allege were non-citizen Muslims. They also called for action to be taken against those the alleged non citizen who allegedly breached the law and those officials who they also allege allowed the non citizens to vote in the election. A further demand was that government authorities scrutinize the alleged non citizens under the 1982 Citizenship Law.

According to the protesters, some 400 ethnic Kamein (also known as Kaman) people have been recognized as citizens in Thandwe Township in 2013 but some 9,000 Muslims voted in the township as ethnic Kamein. How the protesters know that 9,000 Muslims in the township voted in the election remains unclear. The Kamein, a relatively small ethnic group in Arakan state, are a recognized national ethnic group and are therefore recognized as citizens under the 1982 Citizenship Law.

“As far as I know, there is a report of the investigation commission on the Arakan conflict issue. According to this report, there were only 474 Kaman people in Thandwe Township. But, people without national registration cards were included among the voters…..But now we have found that over 9,000 people have been allowed to vote,” said U Tin Nyo from the Gwa Township’s Arakan National Party (ANP), who ran for the Upper House seat in Thandwe, Tongup, and Gwa.

The protestors also demanded that the immigration department investigate the number of Burmese citizens and Kamein people among those voters. The protestors dispersed at Andaw Bridge at 1pm.

A staff person at the Arakan State Election Commission Office, U Thurein Htut, told the BNI Election Newsroom that he did not want to give any comments about this protest. He did say however that a five-member committee was formed to scrutinize the voters and they were allowed to vote after township, ward, and village support committee members identified them as Kamein.