World

Myanmar to examine two-child rule for Rohingya

In this May 13, 2013 photo, an internally displaced Rohingya woman holds her newborn baby surrounded by children in the foreground of makeshift tents at a camp for Rohingya people in Sittwe, northwestern Rakhine State, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

YANGON: Myanmar will examine a controversial ban imposed on Rohingya Muslims having more than two children, a top official said Monday, after criticism from the United Nations and rights groups.

Authorities in the strife-torn western state of Rakhine said last month that they had reaffirmed the longstanding rule -- which was first introduced during the junta era -- in two townships.

"The central government did not announce that policy. We will look into it," presidential spokesman Ye Htut told AFP.

"The population in that area is much higher than in other regions so there are some social and economic problems within each family."

He said the government planned to implement a population policy in the future that would take international standards into consideration.

The UN has called for an end to the ban, which it said was discriminatory and an infringement on human rights.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been accused by activists of failing to speak up for the marginalised Rohingya minority group, last month criticised the policy as counter to human rights.

But highlighting the pressure she faces from within her movement, eight NLD offices in Rakhine have written to the party headquarters expressing support for the two-child policy, citing national security.

Up to 140,000 people -- mainly Rohingya -- were displaced in two waves of sectarian unrest between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine last year that left about 200 people dead.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. They are considered by the UN to be one of the world's most persecuted minorities.

 

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