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Two-child policy violates human rights of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims – UN expert

An assessment team talks to displaced people in
Pauktaw camp in rural Rakhine, Myanmar, where more than 20,000 Rohingya live.
Photo: mildren/OCHA

May 31, 2013

An independent United Nations human rights expert
today urged the Government of Myanmar to respond unequivocally to the revival
of a local order limiting the number of children Rohingya Muslims can have to
two, stressing that this is a clear violation of their human rights.

Tomás Ojea Quintana, the Special Rapporteur on the
human rights situation in Myanmar emphasized that the Government had an
obligation to review and revoke all orders which violate international human
rights standards.

“This local order is one of many that have been
introduced by local Rakhine state authorities that violate the basic human
rights of Rohingya Muslims, including with regard to freedom of movement,
marriage, and registration of newborn children.”

“These orders provide further ammunition to local authorities,
including the border securityforce Nasaka, to discriminate against and
persecute the most vulnerable and marginalized group in Myanmar,” he added in a
news release.

Mr. Ojea Quintana noted that the vast majority of the
800,000 Rohingya Muslims are without citizenship and are stateless, making them
extremely vulnerable to human rights violations.

“This local order in the northern Rakhine state
townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw is a clear-cut human rights violation
targeting a particular ethnic and religious group,” he stated. “The Central
Government must provide an unequivocal response.”

Myanmar has ratified the UN Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which obliges State
parties to respect and protect the right of women and men “to decide freely and
responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to
the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights.”

Also, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has
called on the Government not to restrict the number of children of Rohingya
people.

“It is the role of the State to provide information to
the public on family planning and to provide contraception and other
reproductive health services to women and men throughout Myanmar,” Mr. Ojea
Quintana said. “It is not the role of the State to introduce discriminatory and
coercive measures such as these.”

The Special Rapporteur has maintained that
discrimination against the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state is one of the
underlying causes of the communal violence that erupted there last year, and is
fuelling the spread of anti-Muslim violence across the country.

“Only by addressing this discrimination against
religious and ethnic minorities can the Government of Myanmar hope to forge
integrated communities that live together in equality, peace and harmony,” he
underscored.

Independent experts,
or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights
Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human
rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor
are they paid for their work.