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, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Foreign Minister U Wanna Maung Lwin drew awkward laughter Thursday in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations when he likened the situation of foreign citizens permitted to live and work in the US with Myanmar's so-called "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, reports AP.
This decision has drawn international criticism. It is the latest sign of discrimination against a persecuted, stateless minority. Many Rohingya claim they have lived in Myanmar for decades or generations.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday met U Wanna Maung Lwin and expressed concern about the disenfranchisement of previously eligible minority groups, mostly Rohingya.