Government fails to address Rakhine state violence

By Tim McLaughlin   |   Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The United Nations top official on human rights in Myanmar has said that Rakhine State is facing a “profound crisis,” with the government failing to address the root causes for religious violence that has left hundreds dead and over 100,000 displaced.

Tomas Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, issued the warning in his latest report on Myanmar human rights distributed on October 23 ahead of his UN General Assembly address in New York City.

‘There is little evidence that the Government has taken steps to tackle the underlying causes of the communal violence or has put in place the policies that are necessary to forge a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous future for the state,” his report said.

Rakhine State was the scene of widespread clashes in June 2012 between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims, many of whom are ethnic Rohingya. Violence erupted again in October 2012 and has continued to peak and trough throughout this year.

Quintana said the government’s April report on the unrest, composed by the Rakhine Investigation Commission, “fails to address the issue of impunity and the allegations of widespread and systematic human rights violations against the Rohingya community in Rakhine State“.

“[Myanmar] has not fulfilled its obligation to properly investigate allegations, dating from June 2012, of extrajudicial killings, rape and sexual violence; arbitrary detention and torture and ill-treatment in detention; deaths in detention; and denial of due process and fair trial rights.”

Mr Quintana visited Myanmar from August 11 to 21 on his eighth, and longest, fact-finding mission to Myanmar since taking up his position as Special Rapporteur in 2008.

It may also have been his last, as his term is due to expire.

The visit took a sinister turn in the town of Meiktila, where Mr Quintana travelled to assess the effects of religious violence that had taken place in March. Mr Quintana’s car was attacked by a mob of protestors.

However, the government later disputed Mr Quintana’s description of the attack, claiming town residents were only try to hand him a letter.

The Argentine national was also confronted by protestors in Rakhine State, who accused him of being biased towards the state’s Muslim minorities in previous reports.

Full story in Sunday’s issue of The Myanmar Times.