News / Asia

Burma's '2 Child Policy' for Muslims Criticized as Discriminatory

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, May13, 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, May13, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
Rights activists are calling for Burma to end a two-child policy imposed on the Muslim minority Rohingya people to control their population growth in western Rakhine state.  Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has for the first time sided with the Rohingya, calling the revived policy discriminatory and against human rights. 

Rights groups said a limit of two children for Muslims is one of a number of continued violations against the rights of the Rohingya.

The birth restriction, and a limit of one wife, is being implemented in two districts of Burma's western Rakhine state on the border with Bangladesh.

Buddhists were not to be affected by this policy, but it is not clear if it would be enforced on Muslims in other areas of Rakhine state.

The birth limits for Muslims are not new, but Human Rights Watch said they have only been enforced since 2005. 

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said Burma should revoke the policy and end other restrictions against the Rohingya.

"When people apply for permission to marry, and that's required for Rohingya, they must undertake a written obligation to only have two children.  Any more children than that are not registered and therefore not able to go to school, receive any sort of education, other services from the government, not able to apply for permission to move with their parents.  They become unregistered children of stateless people, possibly the worst situation you could possibly imagine," he said.

Authorities in Rakhine state said they are merely implementing recommendations of the Rakhine Commission.

The presidential commission investigated last year's communal unrest between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims. 

It recommended, among other things, family planning to reduce high birth rates of Muslims that some Rakhine Buddhists fear will soon make them the minority.

The mob violence in Rakhine state last year left 200 people dead and 140,000 displaced, most of them Rohingya Muslims.  Human Rights Watch has labeled the violence ethnic cleansing and cited evidence of involvement by security forces and mass graves.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday gave a rare defense of the Rohingya, telling journalists a two-child limit is a violation of human rights. 

But her National League for Democracy still refuses to recognize the Rohingya as an ethnicity or as citizens.

Her party spokesman Nyan Win said they would be willing to accept citizenship for the Rohingya, but only if the law is changed and they are called Bengalis, a term that implies illegal migration from Bangladesh. 

"NLD never call them Rohingya because of there is no history [of them] in Burma.  That is why," he said.

The Rohingya are considered one of the world's most persecuted minorities and are not recognized as citizens in Burma, despite many living there for generations.

Aung Naing Oo is a Rakhine Commission member.  In an interview in April, he told VOA Burma would have to eventually accept the Rohingya.

"Judging from the statements of the president and other important figures within the government, and it is clear, there is no way.  Where we going to send them to?  They have nowhere else to go.  Bangladesh is not going to accept them.  So basically, there is only one way.  They need to be a part of this country," he said.

A year after the violence many Rohingya are still living in relief camps or confined to their villages.

Doctors Without Borders deputy head of mission for Burma Vickie Hawkins said many Rohingya are afraid to move around, but authorities are not providing enough security and are limiting Muslims to only one hospital.  As a result their health is suffering.

"We know of many cases where the mothers have died due to a lack of referral possibility," she said. "We have also encountered people who have suffered from trauma, some kind of accident, who have needed hospital services and been unable to reach it."

Hawkins says patients have had treatment for tuberculosis cut short, threatening not only their health but also raising concerns of development of resistant strains of the infectious disease.

She said Doctors Without Borders wants to offer higher levels of health care inside the relief camps, but authorities in Burma have refused.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tu from: Bangkok
May 30, 2013 10:38 PM
Be human you guys all the commenter.

by: Kyaw Zayar Win from: Singapore
May 30, 2013 10:39 AM
First of all, I don't like to read the clause " Aung San Suu Kyi has for the first time sided with the Rohingya". Our leader Daw Su always side with Myanmar Citizen whoever is Buddhist or Muslim. Secondly, she just said that two-child policy is against the human right. No matter how apply to Muslim or others. Don't twist the words.
In Response

by: Tony from: HK
May 31, 2013 1:30 AM
Ms Kyi sided with the US who are against 2 child policy. The USA which kills sorry adorts one million of it's own children a year. Kills children with drone strikes. Supports the organistions who support strict sharia practices. The US have no right to dictate policy. The Sangha can be asked for their opinion, it's a Buddhist country. Secondly, there will be nearly 5 percent muslims soon in Burma. Muslims that no other muslim country wants.

At 5 percent historically muslims will begin to create socila and political problems. Surely after waiting under house arrest Ms Kyi should be aware of these dangers and focus on her people. She never left Burma in order to help her people. Now she supports further growth of islam at a time of social change to her beloved people whilst I am sure she is aware of the troubles ceylon has had with muslims. And London, Paris, Boston, Madrid, Bradford, Luton, Milan, and Southern Thailand with 5000 dead buddhist in a few short years. I could go on but Islam has destroyed every country it has entered- take a look at India, Afghanistan. No more Buddhist or any other religion.

The Buddha taught compassion he also taught one has to grab a snake by the head and not tail. He taught clear comprehnsion of purpose and suitability. It is not suitable to listen to the USA. They are the snake. Ms Kyi purpose is to help the Burmese and having muslims in your country wont help, in fact it will lead to the deaths of burmese. It's wonderful to be tolerant and compassionate but tell that to the 5000 buddhists killed in Thailand how compassion worked out for them.

by: Kyle
May 30, 2013 9:46 AM
Does US allow polygamy?
Why prohibition against having more than one wife is human rights violation?
You might ask it is only for Muslims not for Buddhists.
Duh... no Buddhist have more than one wife.
Too much hypocrites in this world.

by: ali baba from: new york
May 28, 2013 4:51 PM
who will feed the overpopulation?

by: Main from: USA
May 28, 2013 2:07 PM
Don't like it? Just leave... What make you all hesitating?
In Response

by: Chan from: Myanmar
May 30, 2013 9:04 AM
Yes, live in the field, eat supply from UN, follow by Sharia law (gov's rules can't reach there), refuse to pay respect to our Nation's flag(they say coz of Quran), One family have at least 25+ family members(still growing, don't believe refer yourself), Do nothing for living, No education. That all? No! the worse parts are, raping and killing (other regional people) then run into Bangladesh, asking for their own state (according to our stupid gov's law, they are allow to vote) and many many more. I don't want to judge about that just decide yourself and find what is real information. One good thing is, if Bangladesh invade to Myanmar, we don't need to defend too long and their army also no need to pass their border, just send gun containers across the border. Thank you for human right!
In Response

by: Alvin from: USA
May 28, 2013 9:14 PM
Who can support this leaving?don't u see where they live?camps,relief camps!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs