WASHINGTON – Myanmar has defended a decision barring 800,000 ethnic minority people from voting in November elections by saying that green card holders can’t vote in U.S. elections either.
Foreign Minister Wanna Maung Lwin drew awkward laughter Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations when he likened the situation of foreign citizens permitted to live and work in the U.S. with Myanmar’s “white card” holders, many of them stateless Rohingya Muslims.
In March, Myanmar declared the temporary identification cards invalid. Those who held them could vote in the last national elections in 2010, but they won’t be able to vote this time.
That’s drawn international criticism. It is the latest sign of discrimination against a persecuted, stateless minority. Many Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for decades.