formation of an extremist Muslim group called the Mujahid Party, whose goal to create an
autonomous Muslin state magnified the Burmese government’s suspicion of the Rohingya. 35
Although the group did not succeed, their actions enabled the Burmese government to justify its
treatment of the Rohingya as non-citizens. 36
In 1978, the Burmese government undertook a harrowing military operation called
“Operation King Dragon,” which resulted in the flight of more than 200,000 Rohingya to
Bangladesh. 37 The military “scrutiniz[ed] each individual living in the state, designated citizens
and foreigners in accordance with the law, and [took] actions against foreigners who ha[d]
filtered into the country illegally.” 38 The Burmese government specifically aimed Operation King
Dragon at the Rohingya civilians, employing mass murder, rape, and desecration of Muslim
religious landmarks. 39 As a result of increasing protest from the international community, Burma
temporarily allowed repatriation of the Rohingya. 40
The 1982 Burmese Citizenship law overshadowed the brief period of repatriation; the law
denied the Rohingya of all the benefits and rights of citizenship. 41 Upon implementation of this
law, the Rohingya became a truly stateless community, deprived of citizenship documentation,
and thus unable to seek refuge anywhere. 42 The law denies nationality for the Rohingya by
creating “three classes of citizens—full, associate, and naturalized—none of which has been
conferred on most [Rohingya].” 43 The Burmese government grants citizenship on a very limited
basis to: Burmese who lived in the country on or before 1823 or individuals who belong to one of
the 130 recognized national ethnic groups, none of which included the Rohingya. 44
Those who qualify to apply for the status of associate or naturalized citizenship either
resided in Burma on or before 1948, or at the very least have an awareness of a former Burmese
law, which would confer such a status upon them. 45 Even if a Rohingya person meets such
criteria, “the Central Body still had the discretion to deny citizenship.” 46 The law is implemented
in a discriminatory fashion in that although the restrictions do not remain applicable to the
Rohingya alone, enforcement of the law is not uniformly imposed on other Buddhists or Muslims
who live in the Rakhine State, or any other ethnic minority who live in the country.47 The
consequences have extended further, as the Rohingya have been stripped of the right to receive
adequate education, health care, social security, and employment opportunities. 48
One of the largest exoduses of Rohingya refugees from Burma occurred in the 1990s
when the State Law and Order Restoration Council (“SLORC”), the militant government of
20110150 (“The Burmese authorities regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants and correspondents say there is widespread public
hostility to them.”).
35 Zubair Ahmad, supra note 29.
36 ROHING YA REFUGEES IN BANGLADESH AND THAILAND, supra note 30, at 7.
37 Zubair Ahmad, supra note 29.
40 ROHING YA REFUGEES IN BANGLADESH AND THAILAND, supra note 30, at 8.
41 Zubair Ahmad, supra note 29.
43 Zawacki, supra note 6, at 18.
45 Id. at 18–19.
47 Id. at 19.
48 Problems Faced by Stateless People, U.N. HIGH COMM’R FOR REFUGEES, http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c161.html (last
visited Jan. 20, 2015).