Muslims given a two-child limit in Myanmar's Rakhine state


A Rohingya man fixes his tent at the Ohnedaw Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp on the outskirts of Sittwe on May 15, 2013.


Soe Than Win

Local authorities in Myanmar's Rakhine state have decided to impose a two-child policy on Muslim residents of the townships of Buthidaung and Maundaw, in a measure they claim will help defuse bloody tension between Rohingyas and Buddhists.

"The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine (Buddhists)," said Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing to the Associated Press of the move, which will also ban polygamy. "Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension."

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It's unclear how the measure will be enforced, notes Radio Free Asia, which noted that the decision to impose the limit was made after a governmental panel convened to discuss techniques for quelling the sectarian violence.

"The birth rates for Muslim families in this area are too high,” said Myaing to RFA’s Myanmar Service. “The Rakhine inquiry commission advised controlling the birth rate in its report, and we will follow their advice,” he added. 

Clashes between Rohingya and Muslims began in June of 2012, after Buddhists took revenge on Muslim communities after the widely-publicized rape of a Buddhist girl by Muslims.

Thousands of Muslim homes were burned to the ground and thousands of Muslims fled — and continue to flee, often making deadly boat-trips across the ocean to nations where they hope to seek a friendlier reception. 

There are an estimated 800,000 Rohingya in Myanmar, and Muslims make up about 4 percent of the nation's population of 60 million. 

The Rohingya are not listed as one of Myanmar's recognized minorities and are often thought of as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and denied citizenship as a result of their status.