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  • Opposition to Burma’s “Two-Child Policy” Mounting

    NYEIN CHAN NAING/EPA/Newscom

    NYEIN CHAN NAING/EPA/Newscom

    Burma’s political icon, Aung san Suu Kyi, is finally speaking out about the plight of ethnic populations in Burma, and the U.S. State Department seems to be listening.

    Burma is facing opposition from the U.S. for its “two-child policy” targeting the Muslim minority Rohingya. Recent enforcement of the 1994 two-child law is the latest in mounting persecution against the Rohingya living in Rakhine state. Two townships, Buthidaung and Maundaw, have begun enforcing the policy in an effort to curb growth in the Muslim population.

    There are between 800,000 and a million Rohingya living in Burma. The majority of Rohingya are not recognized as citizens of Burma because the Burmese government identifies them as illegal immigrants primarily from Bangladesh despite the fact that most Rohingya have lived in Burma for generations. Thus, the Rohingya people are denied citizenship and the legal protection of the state. Fleeing Rohingya are shunned as they attempt to escape Burma and experience little protection from neighboring countries.

    The estimated 60,000 stateless Rohingyan children already face discrimination and are rarely allowed to attend school. Since they are children of illegal immigrants, they are stateless and as such cannot travel to other countries. Forced to live within the confines of a heated ethnic conflict, their freedom is limited.

    Discrimination against the Rohingya reached a peak in June and October of 2012 when an estimated 192 people were killed and 140,000 people displaced in what Human Rights Watch has called ethnic cleansing. The government has used the rising ethnic tension as an excuse to persecute the people—stating that a reduction in the Muslim Rohingya population will diffuse tensions in the region.

    Some fear that in addition to the two-child policy, Burma may use family planning and contraceptives to target minority populations. While abortion is illegal in Burma, it has not stopped the government from targeting minorities and forcibly encouraging them to use contraception through the coercive nature of the two-child policy.

    Until recently, Suu Kyi was silent on the plight of the Rohingya. Finally, she is speaking out against the “two-child policy,” identifying it as a violation of basic human rights. Leadership from Suu Kyi is vital if the Burmese government is to credibly address concerns for the rights of minority groups such as the Rohingya and the Kachin. It will also help guide the Obama Administration, which is all too willing to glide past abuses on its way to full normalization of U.S.–Burma relations.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

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