As a means of encouraging Myanmar’s transition to democracy, Britain is helping fund the country’s next census. What could possibly go wrong?
Because Thein Sein's government is forcing the Rohingya people to register as "Bengali", a continuation of a decades-old policy of stripping the Rohingya of both their citizenship and ethnic identity, Britain's financial support for this process is troubling. The coming census will no doubt be used to reinforce this racist policy and practice of forcibly registering the self-referenced Rohingya and erasing the fact that the Rohingya as an ethnic nationality group ever existed in Myanmar.
As I understand things, right now Rohingya forced into camps after various pogroms across the country are being held until they agree to redefine themselves as ‘Bengali’. The presumption here seems to be that the census will make this process automatic. And the fact that Thein Sein felt able to say that there are no such persons as Rohingya during his speech at Chatham House indicates that the UK government is not acting out of ignorance.