Suu Kyi Blasts Proposed Law on Marriage Restrictions

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Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at her 68th birthday celebration at her party headquarters in Bahan Township, Yangon, June 19, 2013.
Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at her 68th birthday celebration at her party headquarters in Bahan Township, Yangon, June 19, 2013.

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has criticized a proposed law by a group of nationalist Buddhist monks restricting Muslim men and those of other faiths from marrying Buddhist women, saying it was discriminatory and violated human rights.

Under the proposal, non-Buddhist men wishing to marry Buddhist women in Myanmar have to convert to Buddhism. They also have to gain permission from the parents of the Buddhist women and local government officials before tying the knot.

The proposed law was circulated at a conference of Buddhist monks recently amid continuing tensions following anti-Muslim violence since last year in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi told RFA's Myanmar Service that the proposal discriminated against women, violated human rights and the country's laws, and was contrary to Buddhism itself.

"This is one-sided. Why only women? You cannot treat the women unfairly," the 68-year-old Nobel laureate said. "There should not be any discrimination between the men and women."

"I also understand that this is not in accordance with the laws of the country and especially that it is not part of Buddhism," said Aung San Suu Kyi, who heads the opposition National League for Democracy.

"It is a violation of women's rights and human rights," said Aung San Suu Kyi, who is barred by the country's constitution from becoming the president because she had married a foreigner and her children are foreign citizens. She and her husband, the late British academic Michael Aris, had two sons who are British.

Signature campaign

The controversial proposal on marriage restrictions was led by nationalist monk Wirathu who, according to reports, wants to collect signatures to pressure the country's parliament to adopt the law.

Wirathu heads Burma's so-called "969" movement, which represents a radical form of anti-Islamic nationalism that urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim-run shops and services following sectarian violence since last year which has left about 200 people dead and displaced 140,000, mainly Rohingya Muslims.

He said the law would be modeled along regulations restricting interfaith marriage in other countries, such as those in neighboring Malaysia which forbids Muslims from marrying non-Muslims unless the non-Muslims embrace Islam.

Burmese women's rights groups plan to launch a public campaign to stop the contentious draft law, which also stipulates that those who flout the rule could face up to 10 years in prison and have their property confiscated.

Earlier this week, eight women's rights groups based in Myanmar's commercial capital Yangon issued a joint statement condemning Wirathu’s proposed draft law, which he had claimed would “protect Buddhist women’s freedom,” Myanmar's online Irrawaddy journal reported.

“Buddhist women are the target of this draft law, and we know nothing about it all. The ones who drafted the bill are monks. That means it doesn’t represent women,” Zin Mar Aung, a founder of the Rainfall Gender Studies Group and a well-known women’s rights activist, was quoted saying.

Reported by Khin Maung Soe for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Soe and Khet Mar. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Comments (4)


from Singapore

What are the Monks talking about Human Rights?? Human is free to marry a women/man they love.. No one in this earth can stop them. people... We are Mankind ..we represent this World/Earth not just a country. So plse don't bring in Country/Race/Religion/color/creed to get married. I think is time another Genghis Khan to this world. Remember what he Said ;- "I am the punishment of God...If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you."

Feb 24, 2014 01:48 AM

Anonymous Reader

While discrimination against Muslims in Burma is bad, one should think about the Islamic Laws too, which also prohibits inter-religious marriage too. In essence the Buddhist monks are doing exactly that the Muslims are doing too. Why only focus on the Buddhists? Because Buddhists don't have the rule on their canons? It's still unfair. What about the muslim women who cannot excersise their rights marrying non muslim men in muslim countries all over the world? Are there Suu Kyis there? Some people have had to have their wedding (and sometimes legalize their marriage) in other countries. How about these people? Why the ruckus on one side of the spectrum only?

Jan 06, 2014 04:20 AM

Anonymous Reader

If foreign religious haven't abused that Human right, no riots in Burma like today to Muslim. Those content of HR have never been cared by foreign religious officials. From now should be calefully followed, and stay togather peacefully.

Jun 22, 2013 01:34 AM

Anonymous Reader

DASSK's proposal is right,Muslims and Christians need to follow that kind of Human Right in Burma,.They strongly hold the way of marriage Buddhisms must enter to their religious if somebody want to anybody of their religious. By that reason, many young people avoid to love someone of them for long time.

Jun 21, 2013 11:38 PM





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