Arakan Crisis Risks Spread, Endangering Burma Reforms: UN

UN human rights envoy for Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana speaks to reporters following a meeting with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2012. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

UN human rights envoy for Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana speaks to reporters following a meeting with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2012. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

GENEVA — The crisis in Burma’s Arakan State, where sectarian violence erupted last year, risks spreading and endangering democratic reforms undertaken since military rule ended in 2011, a UN investigator said on Thursday.

Burma should also release its remaining 250 political prisoners, end torture by police and address root causes of ethnic conflicts, the independent investigator Tomas Ojea Quintana said.

“There remains a large gap between reform at the top and implementation on the ground,” he said in an annual report to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Rakhine [Arakan] State is going through a profound crisis that threatens to spread to other parts of the country and has the potential to undermine the entire reform process in Myanmar.”

Quintana visited Burma for five days last month and held talks with ministers, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and prisoners. He also visited camps for displaced people uprooted by ethnic clashes in Arakan and Kachin states.

“While the process of reform is continuing in the right direction, there are significant human rights shortcomings that remain unaddressed, such as discrimination against the Rohingya in Rakhine State and the ongoing human rights violations in relation to the conflict in Kachin State,” he said.

They must not become entrenched and destabilize the reform process, said Quintana, an Argentine human rights lawyer.

Deadly sectarian violence erupted last June and October in Arakan between ethnic Arakanese Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas.

“Both Muslim and Buddhist Rakhine [Arakanese] communities continue to suffer the consequences of violence that the government has finally been able to control, though question marks remain over the extent to which excessive force has been used,” he said.

The Nasaka, a border security force accused of committing serious violations against Muslims, should be suspended, he said.

Quintana voiced concern at the “endemic discrimination” against the estimated 800,000 Muslim Rohingyas who lack legal status, and called for discriminatory regulations to be removed.

The Burmese government says the Rohingyas are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not regard them as citizens. Bangladesh also denies them citizenship.

More than 1,100 people, the vast majority of them Rohingya men and boys, are reported to be detained, the UN envoy said, urging authorities to ensure that they are not mistreated.

Despite a more open environment after decades of military rule, people in Burma can be imprisoned for taking part in a peaceful march, he said, calling for the law to be amended.

He saw “no evidence that the judiciary is developing any independence from the executive branch of government.”

The quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein must address serious abuses by the junta and prosecute perpetrators. “Measures to ensure justice and accountability, and access to truth, must therefore remain part of Myanmar’s reform agenda.”

Quintana welcomed increased freedom for Internet users and the reopening of prisons to visits by the Red Cross.

The conflict in Kachin, a volatile area bordering China, escalated in recent months, with the military using air power and heavy artillery to attack targets in Laiza, he said.

He cited continued allegations of “attacks against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as torture.”

Kachin men suspected of having links to the Kachin Independence Army have been arrested and possibly tortured.

Authorities must pursue negotiations with armed groups and protect civilians in Kachin, he said. “Any durable political solution must address the root causes of the conflict and should address the particular concerns of ethnic minority groups.”


7 Responses to Arakan Crisis Risks Spread, Endangering Burma Reforms: UN

  1. Ethnic violence in Myanmar is no different from racial violence in the US, aboriginal violence in the Outback’s of Australia, Sunni-Shea violence in Pakistan, Hindu-Muslim violence in India; so why this special attention; where is the UN with their concerns for Democratic concerns in these situations or countries? Cherry picking only makes the UN more hypocritical and a laughing stock: an organization with no back bone and basically an anachronism. Myanmar will resolve her inner differences in due course; it may be tomorrow, next week or next ten years but give her time: Rome was not built in a day.

  2. Quintana is unable to understand there is no ‘Rohingya minority’ in Myanmar. So called Rohingyas are Bengali immigrants who were brought to Burma by British. Myanmar has no obligation to give citizenship to illegal immigrants. UN has no right to impose a ‘minority’ on Myanmar people. This matter has to be decided by 135 tribes whom they consider as their fellow citizens. Quintana is violating the rights of 135 tribes by thrusting upon them so called Rohingya minority who should not be in Myanmar in the first place.

  3. ROHINGYAS ARE INHABITANT PEOPLE OF Arakan state of Myanmar.NO bangali people were came to the most poorest of Burma country, their own people was cannot eaten by regularly.Bangalis ethnic is very intelligent people, because they”re came to the rich country as like America,canada and British.Burma country is as like a big hell region in the world,NO muslim people want to go Hell country as like Burma.Bangalis are not fetherbrained as like shew moe,, you eaten feces or rice, you are very narrow-minded people.But Rakhines are going to the Bangladesh country to earn money.Quitana is very faithful UN officer,He is respect to anytribes of Human,He is the best morale UN envoy in the world.Who”s have good morale, those persons are not discrimination race,religion,ethnicity,and gender.Rohingyas ethnic was ancestor people of Arakan State of Burma.That is true history of Arakan.Hey, shew moe, you don” know about the History of Arakan,,you don”t write inaccurate and wrong comment,.You also the fanatic racist buddist people of Burma.you must study again the true history of Arakan.

  4. Mr. Quintana was not enough aware about the realities going on in unaccessible,remote and prohibited Arakanese Rohingya areas where are no free medias,journalist and international representatives.Mr.Quintana was far away from whats are happening on rohingyas by “Nasaka terrorist on daily basis.Recently 4 women from north west maungdaw township “Nag Puyya” village was arrested and bitten to death by Cruel Nasaka forces.No one knows the facts except original persecuted Rohingyas, Can any one dare to visit deep inside rohingya’s areas to find facts????????????!!!!!.Dear Shwe Moe there is no comparison between myanmar and other countries conflicts because there were no such involvement of authorities in pakistan and others countries u mentioned Arakan administrative were fully perpetrated in the killings of rohingyas every one has equal rights in the countries u named don’t be so fool.Every one knows about the rohingyas histories and every single rohingyas is deserve of his own birth rights.All human beings are same.

  5. Mr.Quintana is excellent in his duty but far away from the ground realities going on in arakan state.there are much more violations and discriminations of rohingyas than before by nasaka forces recently 4 women were arrested form Kasar beel villages of maungdaw township and beaten to death no one knows what’s happening on rohingyas except rohingyas due to lack of journalist and free medias so i m kindly requesting interantional community to investigate free and fairly. Shwe moe there are no comparisons between Myanmar and other countries because there were no such state sponsor involvement in such countries u mentioned in your unconscious comments Local Govt was fully back and supported the Reking people in the killing of rohingyas.Every knows about the rohingyas histories every rohingyas has their own birth rights as every single reking. All human beings are equal.

  6. Five Million Indian came to Burma, to work for the British, the Burmese refuse to work for the British, three million left Burma for India (2nd world war), further Suba Chander Bose’s The Indian National Army( Bengali Indian) fought The British along The Japanese and Ne Win a Postal Clerk, also Aung San trained in Japan to oust The British from Burma etc:
    The Rohinga are Indian Bengali not Native Arakanese Muslim.
    Native Arakanese Miuslim were Archers fought The British when The Colonialist were Colonizing Burma.
    United Nation should be Moved from New York, USA to A Neutral Country like Switzerland or China for her Neutrality.

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