It is hard to imagine a more inhumane policy than China's one-child policy. But there is one: the two-child policy imposed on Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims. Late last month government authorities in the largely Buddhist country reaffirmed a 2005 policy which punishes Rohingya women who bear more than two children with hefty fines and loss of legal rights for the children.
|Old coin of Arakan, today Rakhine, Myanmar. Minted by Shams al-din Muhammad Ghazi, sultan of Bengal. Dated AH962 (= 1554/5 AD). Obverse: kalima within square. Reverse: (above and right:) Shams al-Dunya wa al-Din abu al-Muzaffar (within square:) Muhammad Shah Ghazi khalled Allah mulkahu wa sultanat (below:) sanah 962 (left:) zarb Arakan (with low "a"). More or less similar to this coin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
After a long silence on the issue, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has condemned the measures. She has told the media that if reports of the policy were true, it was illegal. "It is not good to have such discrimination. And it is not in line with human rights either."
According to al-Jazeera, a government spokesman, Win Myaing, explained that the regulations were meant to dampen sectarian tensions. The Rohingya live mostly in two town, which are islands in a sea of Buddhists. "The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine (Buddhists)," he said. "Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension."
The Rohingya number between 800,000 and 1 million, most of them living near the border with Bangladesh. They have been the target of legal discrimination and sectarian violence. Human Rights Watch has accused the Myanmar government of conducting a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya.
Tensions between Buddhist Burmese and the Muslim Rohingya go back centuries but were greatly heightened during the British colonial period and the Japanese occupation in World War II. Since 1982 Myanmar has not even acknowledged that they are citizens.
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