Authorities in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State have introduced a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya families after a spate of deadly violence between Muslims and Buddhists, an official said on Saturday.
Local officials said the new measure — part of a policy that will also ban polygamy — will be applied to two Rakhine townships that border Bangladesh and have the highest Muslim populations in the State. The townships, Buthidaung and Maungdaw, are about 95 per cent Muslim.
The measure was enacted a week ago after a government-appointed commission investigating the violence issued proposals to ease tensions, which included family planning programmes to stem population growth among minority Muslims, said Rakhine State spokesman Win Myaing.
The commission also recommended doubling the number of security forces in the volatile region.
“The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine [Buddhists],” Mr. Win Myaing said. “Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension.”
Sectarian violence in Myanmar first flared nearly a year ago in Rakhine state with mobs of Buddhists armed with machetes razing thousands of Muslim homes, leaving hundreds of people dead and forcing 125,000 to flee, mostly Muslims.
Mr. Win Myaing said authorities had not yet determined how the measures would be enforced but the two-child policy would be mandatory in Buthidaung and Maungdaw. The policy will not apply yet to other parts of Rakhine State, which have smaller Muslim populations.
Predominantly Buddhist Myanmar does not include the Rohingya as one of its 135 recognised ethnicities. It considers them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. Bangladesh says the Rohingya have been living in Myanmar for centuries and should be recognised there as citizens.
Muslims account for about four per cent of Myanmar’s roughly 60 million people.