A Muslim Rohingya woman (C) breastfeeds her baby at a school sheltering Internally Displaced Persons in the village of Theik Kayk Pyim, Myanmar, on October 11, 2012. (File photo)
Officials in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine have placed a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya couples in a gross violation of fundamental human rights and amid accusations of ethnic cleansing against the community.
Local authorities said on Saturday that the new measure will be exercised in the townships of Buthidaung and Maundaw, where about 95 percent of the population are Muslim.
Rakhine state spokesman, Win Myaing, said the measure was enacted a week ago, and was meant to stem population growth in the Muslim community.
Human rights groups say the policy makes Myanmar the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group.
They also warn that the new move will serve to fan the flames of sectarian violence in Myanmar.
Human Rights Watch has accused Rakhine authorities of fomenting an organized campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya Muslims.
Thousands of Rohingyas are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement.
The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas in Rakhine state from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status.
The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar Army forces allegedly provided the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee.
Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists, who call themselves Buddhists.
Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremists.