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

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen 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.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs