Myanmar holds first census in 3 decades; Muslims can't identify themselves as 'Rohingya'
Muslim refugees at the Thechaung camp refugee camp upon arrival in Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Myanmar, Oct. 28, 2012. (AP / Khin Maung Win)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, March 29, 2014 9:43PM EDT
YANGON, Myanmar - Myanmar is holding its first census in three decades despite calls to postpone it because of fears it could further stoke ethnic tensions and violence.
The government says that members of a long-persecuted Muslim minority cannot list themselves as "Rohingya" despite U.N. assurances. And administrators in some rebel-controlled areas along the border say they will bar census takers.
Census workers, most of them school teachers, started going door-to-door at 7 a.m. Sunday. By the time they finish on April 10, they hope to have visited an estimated 12 million households.
Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011. But newfound freedoms that accompanied its transition to democracy have given voice to religious violence that has left up to 280 people dead.