Current News

    Myanmar’s Rakhine State Imposes Two-Child Limit on Rohingyas

    Rohingya Muslims carry their belongings as they move after recent violence in Sittwe. (PHOTO: Reuters)
    By RFA 
    May 24, 2013
    Authorities in
    western Myanmar’s Rakhine state have introduced a local regulation setting a
    two-child limit on Rohingya families in a bid to restrict population growth
    among the Muslim minority group, according to a government spokesman.
    Officials announced
    the measure—part of a directive that also enforces a ban on polygamy—this month
    but have not said how it will be enforced.
    The new rules have
    been imposed in northern Rakhine state’s Maungdaw district, which comprises
    Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, along the border with Bangladesh.
    The two-child limit
    only applies to Rohingyas, a stateless group widely considered in Myanmar to be
    illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though they have lived in the country
    for generations.
    Rakhine state
    spokesman Win Myaing said the measures were being implemented to curb
    Rohingyas’ high population growth and were in line with recommendations made by
    a central government panel probing communal violence that tore through the
    region last year.
    “The birth rates
    for Muslim families in this area are too high,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
    “The Rakhine
    inquiry commission advised controlling the birth rate in its report, and we
    will follow their advice,” he said.
    The inquiry
    commission’s report, issued in April, recommended family planning education be
    provided to Rohingya families, saying their “rapid population growth” had
    “fuelled insecurity among some Rakhines” and been a factor leading to the
    violence between the two groups.
    Buddhist Rakhines
    and Muslim Rohingya held bloody clashes in the region in June and October last
    year, which left nearly 200 dead and 140,000 displaced.
    Rights groups have
    said Rohingyas bore the brunt of the violence, with Human Rights Watch accusing
    securityforces of complicity in “ethnic cleansing” against the group.
    “According to many
    Rakhines, the implementation of family planning programs amongst [Rohingya] communities would go some way to mitigating such concerns and would support the
    goal of peaceful coexistence,” the inquiry comisson’s report said.
    “If, as proposed,
    family-planning education is provided to the [Rohingya] population, the
    government should refrain from implementing non-voluntary measures which may be
    seen as discriminatory or that would be inconsistent with human rights
    standards.”
    Surprise checks
    Though Myanmar’s
    nearly 800,000 Rohingyas are a minority in Rakhine state and the rest of the
    country, the group makes up a majority of the population in Maungdaw and
    Buthidaung, which are also home to a small Rakhine Buddhist minority.
    Authorities are
    making surprise inspections on Rohingya homes in the townships to check for
    compliance with the birth control regulation, Myanmar Eleven media quoted a
    district immigration official as saying last week.
    Win Myaing said
    families who broke the new rules would be dealt with “according to the
    Immigration Law,” but did not give further details. It remained unclear what
    measures would be taken against families that have more than two children or
    are involved in polygamous marriages.
    The measure could
    later be extended to other townships if necessary, he said.
    Myanmar has no
    national laws limiting reproduction, but its ethnic state governments have the
    authority to introduce regulations in accordance with regional security
    demands.
    Reported by Min
    Thein Aung for RFA’s Burmese Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in
    English by Rachel Vandenbrink.