A human rights organization says Myanmarese authorities are forcing members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority to accept identity cards that strip them of the chance to become citizens.
In a report published on Tuesday, Fortify Rights said that the National Verification Card (NVC) scheme targeting Rohingya Muslims was part of a systematic campaign by Myanmarese authorities to erase their identity.
The government has coerced Rohingya to accept the NVCs, "which effectively identify Rohingya as 'foreigners,'" the group said.
The report, titled "Tools of Genocide," also said Myanmarese authorities used torture and abuse to force Rohingya into accepting the verification cards.
"These findings demonstrate that the NVC process has not been a response to the crisis in Rakhine State, as the government suggests, but rather a fundamental part of the crisis," it added, referring to the state where the Rohingya had been concentrated before hundreds of thousands of them fled state-sponsored violence to neighboring Bangladesh.
The group also says "citizenship scrutiny" processes have progressively limited their rights, including freedom of movement, access to education, and freedom of expression.
Matthew Smith, the group's chief executive officer, also said, "The Myanmar government is trying to destroy the Rohingya people through an administrative process that effectively strips them of basic rights."
The United Nations Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar also found an increase in pressure on the Rohingya to accept the NVC in the months leading up to August 2017.
More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh following a military-led crackdown in 2016 that the UN has said was perpetrated with "genocidal intent."
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017.
The latest development comes days after a second failed attempt to repatriate the refugees from Bangladesh.
Citizenship is at the heart of Rohingya demands for a return to Myanmar.
The Rohingya have inhabited Rakhine for centuries, but the state denies them citizenship. Bangladesh refuses to grant them citizenship, too.