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 partsof western Burma can now travel outside of their villages without obtaining governmentpermission.  However, the travel ban onlyapplies to select townships and Muslims are still required to carry identificationcards. Muslims in other parts of Burma are still unable to move freely; in factsecurity is tightening. Last week Burmese border security troops in Arakanstate, western Burma, posted flyers listing increased punishments fortravelling without government permission.

Movement restrictions place a huge burden on the people ofArakan state. They restrict access to healthcare, impede trade and limit jobopportunities. The Irish Center for Human Rights reported in 2010 that government authorities regularly use the restriction to controland take bribes from the population.

Although the recent change to travel restrictions may be astep in the right direction, it does not go nearly far enough. If the Burmesegovernment is truly pursuing a course of democracy, it should act to ensurecivil rights for everyone and lift the travel ban for everyone in the country.

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