More From Alder's Ledge

May 23, 2013

Is Forced Sterilization Next?

Myanmar's Two Child Limit For Rohingya
(The Darkness Visible series)

(How does it feel to be "illegal"?)

When the Rohingya were forced out of their homes and into ghettos the world said nothing. When the Rohingya were forced to watch their sons and husbands being marched off to do slave labor for a government that hates them, we said nothing. While the Rohingya girls were taken off to rape camps the world refused to speak up. When the planting season passed and the Rohingya were made dependent upon foreign aid for food, the UN couldn't find it in them to say something. 

Now the Rohingya are facing the monsoon season in camps set up in floodplains. Their children are starved as the Burmese blockades hold fast. Their sons and husbands live as broken men as they are made to live under the boots of fascist soldiers. Their daughters and mothers are forced to live in fear of the minions of a genocidal regime. So where is your outrage?

Last week the government issued yet another restriction upon the Rohingya of the Arakan state (note this restriction has been on the books for decades, just being enforced more rigidly now). In a community where medical assistance is almost as scarce as food, the Rohingya are now prohibited from having more than two children. This extension of restrictions specifically issued for Rohingya Muslims adds to the marital laws already on the Myanmar's books. It states that only "monogamous marriages will be recognized" somewhat ironically since Burma does not recognize the Rohingya or permit them to lawfully married. From there the restriction goes on to demand that any Rohingya couple married may only have two children at any point in time. 

“Regarding family planning, they can only get two children,” Arakan State government.

One is suddenly forced to ask just how Burma plans on enforcing this vast breach of a basic human right? Does this new restriction give the authorities in Myanmar the legal means to begin enforcing such measures as forced sterilization? After two children are you supposed to pay fines for all other children that might result from natural sex? And if sterilization is the next step then does that mean that the Rohingya women will be sterilized or will it be the Rohingya men? 

Win Myaing said, “It’s being implemented to control the population growth, because it’s becoming too crowded there.”

Win also stated very clearly that this new restriction is not for Buddhist members of Myanmar's society. This clarification was only diluted by Win's statements back in February when the spokesperson for the Arakan government said of Buddhists jumping the border from Bangladesh, "...if they come, we will help them." Yet according to Win today the Arakan is just "too crowded" to allow minorities to have children. Somehow, however, the Buddhists immigrating from Bangladesh are more than welcome to have as many children as they wish despite being immigrants in an ethnocentric society. 

So with Win Myaing's statements are we to assume that the government of the Arakan is willing to begin to take measures to end the current birth rate of Rohingya Muslims in Burma? 

Maungdaw District Authorities,"will not use force, but if people want to marry [or register newborn children] they have to submit forms to relevant local authorities and gain permission.”

If we are to take the leaders of Burma at their word we would believe that Burma is willing to allow Rohingya to marry and even have children. After all, "will not use force" is a rather clear promise that the soldiers will not round up the undesirables or even force them to live in unsanitary and unsafe ghettos. "Will not use force" should insinuate that the government will not use armed soldiers to keep food, water, and medicine just out of reach of Rohingya refugees. "Will not use force" would signify that Rohingya men would not be marched off at gunpoint to work for a government while their wives and daughters are left defenseless against said government. So why can't we take Myanmar at its word? 

In Europe the Romani people were told that they would be receiving medical attention time and time again (both during the Porajmos and since then) only to be forced into being sterilized. The governments of Norway, France, Hungary, and Germany are all just a few of the perpetrators of this said offense. In some cases the Roma women who were sterilized did not realize what had happened till years later. But no matter when the victim realizes what had been done to them... the affects of the crime are always there. 

So if Western nations (the so called "developed world") are not above using this form of ethnic cleansing then why presume that Burma is telling the truth? 

Was starvation too slow for you Myanmar?

This new restriction is just the latest step in a long line of steps that Myanmar has taken toward its original goal of completing its genocide against the Rohingya people. By limiting the number of children that Rohingya can give birth to the government opens up a new list of excuses for taking action against them. It permits abuses to be committed against the Rohingya without hesitation on the part of the government officials committing these crimes.

In the past Myanmar has shown that it is unwilling to recognize Rohingya marriages. It has set fees so high that marriage itself was out of reach (it also taxed the right of the Rohingya to die as a means of escaping repression). Through this it should be clear to the Western leaders that Burma will never recognize the right of the Rohingya people to give birth. And most of all, it should be obvious to the West that with new laws like this one being made that Burma has no intention of recognizing the existence of the Rohingya already alive... let alone those yet to be born.

“The two-child policy is only for Bengali fathers and mothers who have no citizenship. They have no ID, they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,” Than Tun, of the Arakan Social Network. “The order came from the president and it was implemented as a regional notice.”

Thein Sein's promise of working to mend the relationships the state has with Muslim minorities in the Arakan should be seen for what they are... lies. While he paid lip service to the West he was issuing new orders such as this one geared at the ethnic cleansing of the Arakan. By calling the Rohingya "Bengali" he admits once again that the Rohingya have no place in Burmese society. In his view the Rohingya are simply "undesirables". 

Source Documents
(Note not all sources are listed)

Irrawady News

Washington Post (blog)

The Huffington Post

A look at the enemy:

Oliver Soe Thet, "...mothers are forced to get much much more children than they and specially their Husbands can feed and educate , — all under the pretext of a religion to ensure that they outnumber the other race in a soon time. If peaceful living together is with the Bengali community in North Rakhine on the program than they will understand and fully agree with such a step."

From Instagram: 
@moonoimartyn, "The Rohingya are invaders trying to implement Islam by rape, torture, murder, and forced conversion. Islam and Muslims bring the biggest form of genocide. The Buddhist have the right to fight back."

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