Changes to Burmese Travel Ban Are Only a Partial Solution
According to a recent news story in the Democratic Voice of Burma, Muslim people in parts of western Burma can now travel outside of their villages without obtaining government permission. However, the travel ban only applies to select townships and Muslims are still required to carry identification cards. Muslims in other parts of Burma are still unable to move freely; in fact security is tightening. Last week Burmese border security troops in Arakan state, western Burma, posted flyers listing increased punishments for travelling without government permission.
Movement restrictions place a huge burden on the people of Arakan state. They restrict access to healthcare, impede trade and limit job opportunities. The Irish Center for Human Rights reported in 2010 that government authorities regularly use the restriction to control and take bribes from the population.
Although the recent change to travel restrictions may be a step in the right direction, it does not go nearly far enough. If the Burmese government is truly pursuing a course of democracy, it should act to ensure civil rights for everyone and lift the travel ban for everyone in the country.