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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid