[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Myanmar's Suu Kyi condemns two-child policy

Opposition leader calls policy seeking to curb population growth of Rohingya Muslims illegal and discriminatory.

Last Modified: 27 May 2013 18:11
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Suu Kyi spoke out against a policy which only seems to apply to Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar [Reuters]

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has condemned a policy to limit Muslim Rohingya families to two children.

The policy, put forth by a district government on Monday, dates back to 1994, but does not appear to have been enforced until recent weeks. It does not apply to Buddhists and comes amid accusations of ethnic cleansing.

"They shouldn't discriminate. This is against human rights," said Suu Kyi, adding that the policy is also illegal.

The central government has not made any statement about the two-child policy since Rakhine state authorities quietly enacted the measure a week ago.

An estimated 800,000 Rohingya live in Rakhine state in the west of Myanmar, and are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh by the Buddhist-majority in the country.

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has been criticised for not speaking up for their rights, even after clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Rakhine state last year in which at least 192 people were killed and 140,000 lost their homes.

Most of the victims were Rohingya and many remain in camps they are not allowed to leave.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, told Reuters news agency that the government should amend a 1982 law that bars Rohingya from citizenship.

"If they have the right to be citizens, most of the problems will be solved," he said.

Win said the law should be amended even if that was opposed by Rakhine Buddhists.

China has a one-child policy, but it is not based on religion and exceptions apply to minority ethnic groups.

'Not enforced'

The Arakan Project, an organisation that lobbies for the rights of Rohingya, said in a 2012 report that the two-child policy was not enforced after it was introduced 19 years ago.

A commission appointed to look into last year's violence recommended in an April 29 report that if the government went ahead with a proposed family planning programme, it should "refrain from implementing non-voluntary measures which may be seen as discriminatory or that would be inconsistent with human rights standards".

A senior immigration official, using the term "Bengali" for Rohingya that is widely used by Buddhists, said authorities in Maungdaw District have decided to enforce the directive "following the recommendations in the report".

"Under this directive, Bengali men are allowed to have only one wife and each married couple can have two children. Where there are more than two children, they are considered illegal," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"As far as I know, there are also plans, according to the recommendations, to encourage Muslim women to go to school and to educate them on the benefits of restricting family size."

440

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Weaving and handicrafts are being re-taught to a younger generation of Iraqi Kurds, but not without challenges.
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Featured
As nuclear age approaches eighth decade, visitors flock to historic bomb craters at New Mexico test sites.
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
join our mailing list