SNLD opposes plan to expand household lists for internal migrants

The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), the second largest party in Shan State's parliament, has indicated that it will strongly oppose a move by Burma's new government to expand household list registration to workers and families who have migrated to ethnic areas like Shan State, from other parts of the country. The National League for Democracy (NLD) has made expanding the household list registration to include internal migrants, as one of its priorities for its first 100 days of office.

 “Our party will oppose it in parliament. We can accept it if they [the government] issue temporary registration cards, but now they are going to issue household lists. If [the migrants] get the household lists, they will become residents of that area,” said U Sai Nyunt Lwin, the SNLD’s general secretary.

Whereas previously those who had migrated internally would have to wait many years to be registered for a household list, the new rules will make it possible for those who have lived in an area for at least 6 months to get this. This proposed policy change has raised many concerns amongst ethnic people that it will help contribute to a radical change in the ethnic make up their local communities.

Ethnic Mon groups, including monks, have also called on the government to review the proposed changes. The Mon groups have alleged that the revised lists procedures are part of a territorial expansion into ethnic areas and internal colonization policy. They also claim that internal migration will lead to the disappearance of literature, culture, traditions and customs of ethnic people and “ruin friendship between ethnic people”.

The previous military regime was accused of using internal migration as part of its overall strategy to expand control over the country by sending non-ethnic residents including former military officers to ethnic areas. Resettling outsiders to ethnic areas was alleged to have been part of the army's plan to expand territorial control over ethnic areas.

Reached for comment a representative of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army told the Shan Herald that the issue of internal migration was an ongoing concern. “What will our Shan [people] do? The amount of migration is high so it’s like trying to find the start of the problem,” said Col. Sai La, Secretary (2) of the RCSS/SSA.

Some observers have also questioned whether the proposed household list registration changes were being done to make it easier for the NLD to win the vote in ethnic areas in future elections.

“We need to ask whether this is a preparation in advance for the 2020 Election,” said Sai Aung Myint Oo from the Shan Youth Network.

Many cities and towns in Shan State, including the state capital Taunggyi, are thought to have more residents who originate from outside the state than residents who originate from the state.

BY Staff/Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)


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