Min Tun | DMG
25 August, Sittwe 

Only a few hundred Muslims in northern Arakan State are included on voter lists for the upcoming general election, according to locals, although the Muslim populations in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships are magnitudes higher than the rosters currently enumerate. 

“The voter list recently released mentions some hundreds of Muslims not only in Maungdaw but also in Buthidaung Township. Some Muslims holding Citizenship Scrutiny Cards are not included on the list,” said U Abdul Kirher from Nyaungchaung village-tract in Buthidaung Township. 

U Maung Maung, a Muslim from Thetkaypyin village in Sittwe Township who was able to cast a ballot in the 2015 general election, has not been included on the list posted ahead of the coming vote. He is worried that he will be disenfranchised this year, with finalised voter lists due in October.  

“Officials collected [my information] for the voter list but I am not included on the voter list now,” said U Maung Maung. 

Muslims’ ability to vote depends on the government, said U Kyaw Min, chairman of the Democracy and Human Rights Party. 

“Up to now, Muslims are losing the chance to cast votes. Those holding Citizenship Scrutiny Cards can be enumerated on the voter list. The chance for Muslims to cast votes depends on the government,” said U Kyaw Min. 

About 2,000 Muslims holding Citizenship Scrutiny Cards (CSCs) in Arakan State should be allowed to cast votes in the November election, but some 600,000 Muslims would lose the chance to vote due to lack of CSCs, U Kyaw Min estimated. 

Daw Tin Hlaing, chair of the Arakan State election subcommission, said: “With regard to the voting of Muslims, it is important for all such as Muslims or others to be involved on the voter list. The voter list doesn’t mention voter numbers for Muslims, Buddhists and Christians. It doesn’t mention religions. ... If the voter list carries their names, they will have the chance to cast votes.” 

There are about 1.64 million eligible voters in Arakan State for the 2020 general election, according to the Arakan State election subcommission.

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