Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


October 7, 2017

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There is a simple point, although many people may not be aware of it, and which puts the Rohingya crisis in a new light. Aung San Suu Kyi, with her obsession with the "rule of law," though, not to mention the circumstances of her own children, certainly knows all about it, although she never publicizes this fact.

A newborn baby is a citizen of the country in which it is born. That's it. That is a fundamental legal principle, and which all civilized countries, or countries which like to think they are civilized, follow.

For example, a baby born to American parents in the United States is a new American. This is then formalized through the birth certificate and through the baby getting its own identification number, for the U.S. its Social Security Number. But, a baby of parents who are citizens of other countries who is also born in America, such as people working in the country or even just visiting, becomes an American as well, even though they - the parents - are not. The parents can then take the baby home to their country of origin and have its nationality registered there (or even at that nation's embassy or consulate in the U.S.), and through which the baby becomes a "dual national," a citizen of both countries. This is the way it works, and while there may be some abuses, such as wealthy pregnant Chinese women coming to the U.S. to give birth ("birth tourism"), the system is established. (U.S. immigration authorities are taking steps to minimize birth tourism.)

While they may not have done it, Suu Kyi's children, Alexander and Kim, have an established right to be dual citizens, of both the U.K. and Burma. Through having a British citizen as a spouse, Suu Kyi also has a right to apply for U.K. citizenship.

This system is so customary that even racists in America accept it. They may hate immigration from certain regions but they never dispute the fact that children born in the U.S. are American. Their racism is clearly on show though through their opposition to "Dreamer" Americans. This refers to people who were brought to the U.S. as babies or young children, and who have subsequently spent their entire lives in the country. While their arrival may have technically been against the law, they have become de-facto Americans. The racists, heartless bastards that they are, want to send them back to the countries where they were originally born, even though this would mean deporting them to places which are now - for them - foreign. As countless people have pointed out, national immigration policy should have room for compassion.

For Burma, what this means is that effectively all Rohingya are its citizens. Not only can the vast majority of Rohingya people identify their ancestors as living in the country for many, many generations, and where they of course also were born (there's no birth tourism to Bangladesh), there has been almost no cross-border movement into this area of Burma in recent decades. With the modern repression of the Rohingya that began in 1978, and which was then written into a dictatorship law in 1982, almost no one has attempted to migrate into the country across its southwest border. This means that an extraordinarily high number of Rohingya, 99% or even more, were born in Burma and are therefore unquestionably its legal citizens, racist Burman law notwithstanding.

Every single one of the Rohingya who have had to flee are citizens of Burma. There is no rational dispute about this. That the Burman and other racists of the country label them illegal immigrants is just a rhetorical step to justify persecution which has now reached the level of genocide.

What this also means is that all the Rohingya who have had to flee in prior decades, including the over 200,000 in 1978, should have the right of return. As for any children of Rohingya refuges who were born in other countries, in a way analogous with the American Dreamers, they too should have to right to citizenship in their native land.