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Violence Continues in Ethnic Areas, says UN Special Rapporteur

23 May 2011: The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana wrapped up his visit to Thailand, saying he is concerned that the Burmese government is not finding a political solution to solve the ethnic conflicts.

In his statement released today after making a fact-finding trip to Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Mr. Quintana said the ongoing situation of ethnic nationalities in the border areas does not meet the Government’s intention towards transition to democracy.

“Violence continues in many of these [ethnic] areas. Systematic militarization contributes to human rights abuses. These abuses include land confiscation, forced labor, internal displacement, extrajudicial killings and sexual violence.”

“They are widespread, they continue today, and they remain essentially unaddressed by the authorities.”

The UN rights expert stressed the Burmese authorities must do more in order to bring democracy into the country after reaching the final step of the 7-step roadmap and establishing the national and state and regional legislatures.

Reflecting on Burma’s elections, the Argentinean lawyer said the electoral process excluded several significant ethnic and opposition groups, whose voices are not being heard in these fora.

During his visit to Mae Hong Song on the Thai-Burma border, Mr. Quintana met with ethnic Karenni groups, who raised their grave concern about the new conscriptions laws forcing locals including women to flee as refugees.

Karenni children are sent by their parents to refugee camps in Thailand for basic education opportunities because schools are not available in much of their state, which is one of Burma’s smallest but most militarized states, according to the statement.

As part of his ongoing mandate to report on the situation of human rights in Burma, Quintana recently made a trip to Malaysia where he met with Chin and other ethnic community-based organizations, as well as interviewed individual refugees and asylum seekers.

The UN Special Rapporteur also indicates his hope to visit Burma to continue discussions with the authorities and other stakeholders over issues including the ongoing serious human rights situation in the country.

Mr. Quintana began his visit on 16 May 2011 in attempts to gather information about the situation inside Burma in preparation of his next report to the UN General Assembly later this year.

Van Biak Thang

[email protected]

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