Network Myanmar
Dharma-Wheel.jpg

Legal Texts and Commentaries relating to Citizenship and Statelessness

Compendium of Legislation relating to Immigration and Citizenship - Online Burma Library


1982 Burma Citizenship Law and related documents

·         UK National Archives Kew (London): Cataogue Entry for 1982 File FCO 15/3177 - Burmese Citizenship Law

·         Letter to the FCO from the British Embassy commenting on the Law - 25 November 1982

·         Memorandum to the DFA from the Australian Embassy on the Law - 16 November 1982

·         Text of Burma Citizenship Law dated 15 October 1982 and of the 1983 Citizenship Rules

·         A more authoritative translation of the Burma Citizenship Law dated 15 October 1982

·         Burmese text of the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law dated 15 October 1982

·         Speech on the proposed citizenship law by General Ne Win on 8 October 1982

·         Letter to the FCO from the British Ambassador commenting on the draft law - 12 May 1982

·         Text of draft citizenship law: Public Consultation document - 'The Guardian' 21 April 1982

·         Text of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma 1974


1948 Union Citizenship Act and 1948 Union Citizenship (Election) Act and related documents

·         Permanent Residence of a Foreigner Rules 2014

·         Compendium of Laws on Citizenship and Residence 1864-1956 R.J. Verma 1961

·         Residents of Burma Registration Rules 1951

·         The Residents of Burma Registration Act 1949

·         Text of the Union Citizenship Act of 1948 (as amended to 1 December 1960)

·         Text of the Union Citizenship (Election) Act of 1948

·         Text of the Constitution of the Union of Burma of 1947

·         Text of the Burma Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act 1947

·         Text of the Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary Provisions) Order 1972

·         Bangladeshi Nationality Law - Wikipedia


Miscellaneous related documents

·         Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

·         Convention and Protocol on the Status of Refugees 1951

·         Text of Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons 1954

·         British Embassy Rangoon - Letter on immigration initialled FA Warner 21 January 1958   

·         Text of Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness 1961

·         Text of Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 

·         Text of Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness 2006


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


 Articles

 

Thant Myint-U: The Hidden History of Burma – Atlantic Books London 2019

Extract Page 17: “In 1982, a new citizenship law was enacted. There is a common perception that the Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship by this law. That’s not true….”

 

Problems with the Kofi Annan recommendations on citizenship - 16 December 2018

Why the Myanmar Government may have difficulty while accepting 81 of the 88 recommendations

 

Comment: "Myanmar's 'Rohingya' Problem by Anthony Ware and Costas Laoutides - 27 September 2018

A critical analysis of some aspects of this important publication

 

Exploring the Issue of Citizenship in Rakhine State - September 2017

A fresh look at the claims of Rakhine Muslims to citizenship under the 1982 Law 


National Races and the Exclusion of Rohingya from Taingyintha: Nick Cheesman 2017

How in Myanmar "National Races" came to surpass citizenship and exclude Rohingya

 

Problems with facts about Rohingya statelessness - Nick Cheesman December 2015

After the 1982 law passed the legislature, initially not much happened. Burma’s bureaucracy embraced it with characteristic creative inertia, doing nothing.


A genealogy of 'taingyintha', Myanmar's national races - Nick Cheesman podcast 27 October 2015

Discussion on 'taingyintha' at the Coral Bell Scool of Asia Pacific Affairs

 

Rohingyas 'have the right' to apply for Burmese citizenship: Mizzima - 13 September 2012

Minister of Immigration Khin Ye on eligibility for citizenship for Rohingyas of the third generation

 

President Thein Sein explains to UNHCR Antόnio Guterres the ‘Third Generation’ rule - 12 July 2012

At their meeting on 11 July 2012 President Thein Sin explained that the descendants of Bengali migrants during British rule were entitled to citizenship from the third generation.


Report on Citizenship Law: Myanmar: José María Arraiza and Olivier Vonk - RSCAS October 2017

An historical review of citizenship law in Myanmar, with emphasis on the current situation



Lists of Ethnic Groups


The 2014 Census: Enumeration Code Book

Population and Housing Census - Ethnicity/Foreign Nationals


Pyithu Hluttaw statement on the origins of the 135 races

In Burmese. See summary in English in Nick Cheesman's article in 2017 above


Speech by General Saw Maung on 5 July 1989

Includes passage on division of 135 national races into groups


List of 135 national races first published in Working People's Daily (Burmese) on 27 September 1990


List of 144 ethnicities used at the 1973 Census


Tables on Race and Language published in the 1931 Census Report


Cecil Lowis: The Tribes of Burma 1919







 

 








 


Bagan_Panorama.1.jpg

                                 The 1982 Citizenship Law

 

As Robert Taylor observed in his 2006 Article “The Legal Status of Indians in Contemporary Burma”, the planning for the 1982 Citizenship Law was a consequence of the introduction of the 1974 Burmese Constitution. This preceded the refugee crisis arising from Operation Naga Min examined in the “Exodus” page on this website.

 

The necessity for new legislation to deal with citizenship became apparent in the mid-1970s when the bureaucracy found themselves in a muddle over how to handle applications for citizenship, made in the 1950s under immediate post-independence legislation, which had been outstanding in most cases for some twenty years. The confusion was compounded by the abolition at the time of the 1962 military coup of the 1947 Constitution on which the legislation was based.

 

The new legislation was drafted by the Burma Law Commission appointed by the Council of State in 1977. As Taylor noted in his article (available for US$ 5.00 from ISEAS), the Law Commission toured the country with a draft for public consultation. A revised draft was published in the local press in April 1982.

 

The new law sought especially to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. By the late 1950s the number of unprocessed aliens in Burma was in the region of two million. Though some 300,000 Indians and 100,000 Overseas Chinese, mainly engaged in the business and financial sectors, had been obliged to leave Burma in the mid-1960s, there remained a hard-core of some 1.5 million unprocessed applicants for either Burmese citizenship or foreign residence rights as well as illegal migrants in a state of limbo.

The law was intended to clarify the legal position of the estimated four per cent of the population who were of Indian or Chinese descent, whatever their citizenship status. General Ne Win set out his intentions in a speech immediately prior to the promulgation of the law.

 

An immediate concern was the position of Arakan Muslims affected by Operation Naga Min, but the new legislation was primarily designed to deal with a nation-wide problem. In this Ne Win was not to succeed, mainly through lack of political will to implement the provisions of the new law.

 

The issue with respect to Arakan is discussed in detail in an article which I wrote in 2017 (at this link).

 

Derek Tonkin