Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Envoy urges action to end rights abuses in Karen State

June 6 |
Tomas Quintana 4

Ethnic minority communities in eastern Burma continue to endure widespread human rights abuses despite the government’s nominal transition to a civilian government, a UN human rights envoy told reporters in late May.

Tomas Quintana, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, said in prepared remarks that Burma’s “systematic militarization” continues to promote “land confiscation, forced labor, internal displacement, extrajudicial killings and sexual violence,” despite the country’s much-touted transition to a civilian-led democratic government.

“The authorities have now reached the final step of their 7-step roadmap to democracy, but democracy requires much more,” Quintana said.

“Even though the establishment of national and state and regional legislatures is important, these venues alone are not sufficient.”

Quintana addressed the media at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand in Bangkok on May 23 following his one-week mission to assess the human rights situation in Burma. He has not been allowed to visit the country since March 2010, when he recommended the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate possible crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.

Having acknowledged seeing some “positive signs,” particularly with regard to parliamentary discussions on a potential ceasefire agreement in Karen State and a national workshop on poverty reduction, Quintana noted that the government would need to be monitored closely “to see how this translated into action.”

“It is my hope to be able to visit Myanmar as soon as possible to continue discussions with the authorities and other stakeholders about progress being made towards the transition to democracy and concerns about the ongoing serious human rights situation in the country,” he said.

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