Burma’s President Thein Sein announced on Friday that a commission is to be formed which will assume responsibility for drafting “Race Protection Bills”.
Pe Than, an MP representing Arakan State’s Myaypon Township, said, “I have been told that there will be new laws for population control and a monogamous marriage system. The President mentioned in his letter [to Parliament] that these laws will be drafted by the Supreme Court. For two other laws, there will be an appointed commission.”
As per a request by the Organisation for the Protection of Religion and Nationality, an influential group led by nationalist Buddhist monks, the new bills may include laws on changing faith; interfaith marriage; monogamy; and population control.
However, Phoe Than Chaung, a spokesperson for the Burmese Communist Party, said the move to urgently approve these Race Protection Bills was nothing more than a “political stunt”.
“The current government, whenever they are facing difficulties, use religion,” he said. “Lately, we see this more and more on racial and religious issues. They are cunning. Approving these laws is a political stunt aimed at gaining popularity and reputation among the Buddhist community. This is not being undertaken in a spirit of unity and mutual co-existence between different religions and races.
Thein Sein said in Parliament last month that the move to draft such legislation was taken after a petition raised more than 1 million signatures.
Many observers see the Race Protection bills as attempts to subjugate and control the Rohingya Muslim community in Arakan State where a series of bloody confrontations between Muslims and Buddhists has led to a rise in nationalism among Burmese Buddhists across the country.