Accepted paper:

Refugees, Myanmar nationals or Bangladeshis?: the Rohingyas' use of multiple identity documents in Bangladesh


Fariba Alamgir (University of Bath)

Paper short abstract:

The study explores Rohingyas' experience of documentary practices, the use and value of varied identity documents. The Rohingyas own multiple identity cards in Bangladesh.Access to varied documents depends on individual's migration history,class,kin network and access to formal/informal authorities.

Paper long abstract:

Since 1970s, Bangladesh has witnessed recurrent influx of the Rohingyas from Myanmar. In 2017, facing multiple outbreaks of Myanmar government-led violence, almost 800,000 Rohingyas were forced to migrate to Bangladesh. There are multiple categorizations of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh, as the state shifted its position in identifying them. Today, Rohingyas are identified by the state as -registered refugees (those who migrated in 1978 and 1991/2) living in the 'old' camps and Myanmar Nationals (those who migrated in 2012, 2016 and 2017) living in the 'new' camps. Within the context of varied identification of the Rohingyas by the state and non-state authorities, by employing an ethnographic method, this study explores the Rohingyas' experience of documentary practices, the use and value of varied identity documents among the Rohingyas. The study is being carried out among the population categorised as 'refugee' and 'new arrivals'/ 'Myanmar nationals' in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. The study finds that the identity documents owned by the Rohingyas include - Refugee Card provided by UNHCR, ghontar card/ Myanmar National Card provided by Bangladesh Govt, blue card/ WFP food assistance card and also Bangladesh National ID card. Some Rohingyas possess multiple documents and overlapping identities. The Rohingyas experience and employ various practices to obtain/retain multiple identity cards and use these strategically to access institutions and resources. Individuals' access to multiple identity documents depends on their migration history, class, kin network and access to formal and informal authorities at the local level.

panel B04
The production, uses and meaning of identity documents for people on the move