The United Nations has expressed concern over the exclusion of Myanmar’s long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims from the country’s first census in decades.
On Wednesday, the UN accused Myanmar of deviating from its commitment that the census will be exercised in accordance with international standards and human rights principles.
In a statement, the UN Population Fund said the exclusion of Rohingyas undermines the credibility of the data.
It has cited instances where state officials walked away from people with Rohingya ethnicity in the volatile western state of Rakhine.
"In its agreement with the United Nations…the government made a commitment to conduct the exercise in accordance with international census standards and human rights principles," the UN statement read, adding, "It explicitly agreed with the condition that each person would be able to declare what ethnicity they belong to."
On the eve of the census, a Myanmar's presidential spokesman announced that anyone calling themselves "Rohingya" would not be counted.
Rakhine is home to about two million Rohingya Muslims, but they were not included in the 1982 citizenship law.
The country’s first UN-backed census in three decades is aimed at plugging an information deficit in the former junta-run country.
Latest reports have indicated that 99 out of 100 Rohingya families, who identified themselves as Rohingya, were not registered.
Over the past two years, hundreds of Rohingyas have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee after being targeted by Buddhist mobs.
Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have been persecuted and faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country's independence in 1948.
Myanmar’s government has been repeatedly criticized for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslims. International bodies and human rights organizations accuse the government of turning a blind eye to the violence.