One Region in Myanmar Limits Births of Muslims YANGON, Myanmar â€” The local authorities in the western state of Rakhine in Myanmar have imposed a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya families, a policy that does not apply to Buddhists in the area and comes amid accusations of ethnic cleansing during earlier sectarian violence. Officials said Saturday that the new measure would be applied to two Rakhine townships that border Bangladesh and that have the highest Muslim populations in the state. The unusual order makes Myanmar perhaps the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group, and it is likely to fuel further criticism that Muslims are being discriminated against in the Buddhist-majority country. In a recent meeting with President Thein Sein, President Obama mixed praise for the countryâ€™s rapid pace toward democracy with a warning that violence against Muslims â€œneeds to stop.â€ It was unclear how the local government would enforce the rule, and the announcement could be as much about playing to the countryâ€™s Buddhist majority as about actual policy. It was also unclear what effect the new limits would have; there have already been restrictions on Rohingyas marrying, which analysts said were meant to decrease the birthrate. A spokesman for Rakhine State, Win Myaing, said the new program was meant to stem rapid population growth in the Muslim community, which a government-appointed commission identified as one of the causes of the sectarian violence. Although Muslims are the majority in the two townships in which the new policy applies, they account for only about 4 percent of Myanmarâ€™s roughly 60 million people. The measure was enacted a week ago, after the commission recommended family planning programs to stem population growth among Muslims, Mr. Win Myaing said. â€œOverpopulation is one of the causes of tension,â€ he said. The policy will not apply yet to other parts of Rakhine State, which have smaller Muslim populations. The central government has not made any statement about the two-child policy, which was introduced at a local level. Calls seeking comment on Saturday from two government spokesmen were not immediately returned, but an official with Rakhine State, Myo Than, said all local policies require â€œconsent from the central government.â€ A new wave of sectarian violence in Myanmar first flared nearly a year ago in Rakhine State between the regionâ€™s Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya. Mobs of Buddhists armed with machetes razed thousands of Muslim homes, leaving hundreds of people dead and forcing 125,000 to flee, mostly Muslims. Human Rights Watch has accused the authorities in Rakhine of fomenting an organized campaign of â€œethnic cleansingâ€ against the Rohingya. Since then, violence against Muslims has erupted in a few other parts of the country. Containing the strife has posed a serious challenge to Mr. Thein Seinâ€™s government as it tries to make democratic reforms. It has also tarnished the image of opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been criticized for failing to speak out strongly in defense of Muslims. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/world/asia/a-region-in-myanmar-limits-births-of-muslims.html?_r=0 ************************************* Myanmar's Rklhine State has been a scene of violent Muslim - Buddhist rioting with the Muslim getting that wrong end of the stick normally. Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spearheaded human rights issues in Myanmar is surprisingly silent on this issue. It is obvious that this is a discrimination based on religious lines, even though it will not affect other parts of the Rakhine State, but the two cities., where the population is said to be 90% Muslim, as reported in other papers. Other papers have also reported that the law will be changed to prevent polygamy. One awaits to see the reaction of the western human rights lobbies, who are ever so ready to howl from the rooftops of human rights violations in non western nations.