News / Asia

Burma to Review Birth Restrictions for Muslim Rohingyas

An internally displaced Rohingya woman holds her newborn baby surrounded by children in the foreground of makeshift tents at a camp for Rohingya people in Sittwe, northwestern Rakhine State, Burma, May 13, 2013.
An internally displaced Rohingya woman holds her newborn baby surrounded by children in the foreground of makeshift tents at a camp for Rohingya people in Sittwe, northwestern Rakhine State, Burma, May 13, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
Burmese authorities said they will review a policy in western Rakhine state that imposes birth limits on Muslims to control population growth. The policy, which limits Muslim Rohingyas to only two children has been condemned by rights activists and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a Skype interview with VOA, Burmese presidential spokesman Ye Htut said central authorities first learned of the two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya from reports in foreign media. "We didn't have any information about this order. Only, we saw it on the international media," Ye Htut stated."So, we will check with the state government on this issue."

Restrictions only for Muslims

The birth restriction on Muslims and a limit of one wife, when the religion allows for four, were first reported last week in Burmese media.

Authorities in western Rakhine state say it is being implemented in two districts on the border with Bangladesh, where Rohingya Muslims are in the majority.  

The birth limits are only for Muslims and date back to the previous military government, although enforcement varied.

State spokesman Win Myaing said the new push on the limitations is part of efforts at family planning recommended by a presidential commission in April to reduce tensions between Buddhists and Muslims.

But Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said, since 2005, Rakhine state border guards have sought to more strongly implement the rules.

"I think what they're trying to do is control the terms of debate, that they are saying this is 'what we've done and it's justified by the national government of Burma.'  It falls on the national government of Burma to now respond and say whether this is their policy or not," added Robertson.

The Rakhine Commission is investigating the root cause of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims last year that left 200 dead and 140,000 displaced, most of them Rohingyas.

Controlling over population

The commission said a fast-growing Muslim population had raised Rakhine Buddhists' fears that they could soon be outnumbered and overruled in Burma's emerging democracy. It recommends better assimilating Muslims and family planning to limit the growth. But the commission warns any non-voluntary measures could cause more tensions.

Spokesman Ye Htut said President Thein Sein has not yet decided if he wants to support the birth restrictions. He said he will announce a position after talking to Rakhine authorities and studying the commission's recommendations.

"Up to now, we cannot say whether we support or not because we have to review all the recommendations made by the Rakhine commission on every issue. So, I cannot make that comment on particular case, whether we will (be) doing or not," said Ye Htut.

Human Rights abuse?

Rights groups condemned the two-child policy as one of many ongoing abuses against the Rohingya, who are not recognized as citizens in Burma despite many living there for generations.

Human Rights Watch said Rohingya's who want to register their marriage must promise to only have two children. Any more than two, or children born out of wedlock, are not able to go to school or receive government services.

The rights group said anyone caught breaking the two-child rule faces fines and jail time. To avoid the punishment, it said some Rohingya women have resorted to unsafe abortions. 

Ye Htut dismisses the concerns of Human Rights Watch and its call for the policy to be abolished. "Most of their comment[s] are based on their one-sided information.  So, what we are now trying to do is to implement the recommendation by the Rakhine commission and we will consider every aspect on these issue[s] from a human rights aspect and other local law and order, and also from the international norm[s] and standard[s]," Ye Htut said.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday said the two-child limit is discriminatory and a violation of human rights.

You May Like

Somalia: No Popular Elections in 2016

In interview Wednesday with VOA, President Mohamud says 'one person, one vote' elections will not be possible due to continuing insecurity More

Scientists Predict Climate Change Will Increase Child Malnutrition

Public health expert in Germany says that by 2050, 25 million more children's lives will be put at risk because of lack of nutrients tied to climate change More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs