Supporters of Two-Child Limit for Rohingya Stage Demonstration in Sittwe

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 4 June 2013

Nearly 1,000 Arakanese people gathered in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State in western Burma, to show their support for local authorities’ ban on Rohingya Muslims having more than two children and one wife, urging that the ban be extended to cover the entire state.

Last month, authorities in Arakan State’s Maungdaw district enforced the ban because, authorities said, the population of Rohingya in the district was growing at an unacceptable rate and needed to be stemmed.

“Rakhine [Arakan] State is close to Bangladesh, so that we need to have something to keep their population in check in our state,” said Tha Pwint, one of the demonstration’s leaders, during the mass gathering in Sittwe on Tuesday.

The United Nations said last month that a decision by authorities in western Burma to restore a two-child limit on Rohingya Muslims was discriminatory and in violation of their human rights. UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said UN human rights bodies have called on the authorities in Arakan State “to remove such policies or practices.”

The Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi also questioned the recent introduction of a two-child policy for Rohingya families in Arakan State, saying the measure is “illegal” and “not in accordance with human rights.”

Earlier on Tuesday, AFP reported that Burma will review the local decision to forcibly limit Muslim Rohingya in two areas of Arakan State to two children.

Participants said they held Tuesday’s demonstration to show their solidarity with the local authorities’ two-child policy for Rohingya.

“If the United States and the UN put pressure on the government on the issue, we can respond to it now as we show our support for the order,” said Aung Thit Soe, a youth leader who took part the demonstration.

The demonstration was joined by political party members, members of social networks and Sittwe residents. Participants were surrounded by Buddhist monks.

“Despite their participation in the demonstration, they are not involved as party members,” said Aung Myat Kyaw, an MP from the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP).

“They might want to join it because they are Rakhine people.”