While Burma’s new government has made important steps on the road to democracy, the situation of the Rohingya shows that there is still some way to go. The human rights organisation IRIN has presented a report on state discrimination against Muslim babies in Burma to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
This report reveals a discriminatory policy against the Rohingya ethnic group in Arakan State in west Burma. This includes banning Rohingya children born out of wedlock from obtaining travel permits, attending school and, in the future, marrying.
Two child policy for Rohingya
Also a strict two-child policy for the Rohingya (and only the Rohingya) is still in place in Burma, and the same treatment detailed above applies to children born above that limit. The IRIN report says that families with unregistered children face constant threat of arrest. Only with “unending extortion” by government authorities they can keep their children safe. Around 44,000 Rohingya children are unregistered and have to live a fearful life.
As all human rights violations against the ethnic minorities in Burma are underreported, the situation of the Rohingya hardly seems to exist. The Burma government has launched several massive operations against the Rohingya over the last decades, of which the 1991 operation had the discriminatory name ‘Operation Clean and Beautiful Nation’.
The Rohingya are until today simply denied by the Burmese government. Since the military junta came into power in 1962, the Rohingyas were officially declared foreigners in their one native land. In 1982, with the passage of the junta’s Citizenship Law, they effectively ceased to exist legally. Thousands of Rohingya nowadays live as refugees in Bangladesh, in very difficult circumstances.
If you want to read more about the situation of the Rohingya, please read further on UNHCR