Myanmar has shown again that 50 years as a dictatorship will lead to awkward moments in rejoining the world community of nations. Last weekend, the government did something completely outlandish and unacceptable. It decreed that Rohingya Muslim women must have no more than two children in their lifetime. No country, ever, has instituted such a policy, and Myanmar must immediately rescind it.
Myanmar officials foolishly defended the indefensible policy when it became public. Win Myaing, the government spokesman in western Rakhine state, home to most Rohingya, said the "rapid population growth" of Rohingya was a main cause of Buddhist attacks and ethnic riots that left hundreds dead in the state. You read that right _ Rohingya births caused Buddhists to kill. Win Myaing also made it clear the restrictive birth policies do not apply to Buddhists.
With anti-Muslim violence spreading far beyond Rohingya centres, this is a policy the government cannot afford to enforce. No country in the world has ever decreed a birth limit on religious grounds. And even China, with the most vicious one-child policy in the world, has special exceptions for minorities. Myanmar has slapped an onerous restriction on its most endangered minority.
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