Myanmar must face junta crimes: U.N. envoy

The government of President Thein Sein, a former junta general, has international obligations to face "serious crimes and systematic human rights abuses", a U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar said.

Myanmar must face junta crimes: U.N. envoy


World Bulletin/News Desk

Myanmar must pursue crimes committed by the former junta but neither the quasi-civilian government nor opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi have any appetite to do so for now, a United Nations investigator said on Friday.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said accountability for decades of violations was crucial for healing as well as for solidifying reforms.

The military regime stands accused of having used forced labour, suppressing ethnic minorities and killings and torture by its troops and police.

Ojea Quintana, asked about prospects of a truth commission or prosecutions, said: "The reality is that in Myanmar, this is not on the agenda of any of the stakeholders. It's not on the government agenda, it's not on the other political parties agenda and it's not on the ethnic minority groups agenda."

The independent U.N. investigator, speaking to a news briefing in Geneva, held talks with senior officials in Myanmar as well as Suu Kyi during his latest visit last month.

Suu Kyi's party began its first congress on Friday aiming to push forward positions that will become increasingly important in the run-up to a 2015 election that could sweep it into government.

On Thursday, Ojea Quintana said in an annual report that the crisis in Rakhine state, where sectarian violence erupted last year, risks spreading and endangering democratic reforms undertaken since military rule ended in 2011.

The government of President Thein Sein, a former junta general, has international obligations to face "serious crimes and systematic human rights abuses", he said.

LEARNING FROM THE PAST

Noting that his native Argentina had emerged from a military dictatorship in the 1980s, Ojea Quintana said:

"To learn from the past you need to understand what happened and not just to act as if nothing had happened in Myanmar that had a military regime for more than 40 years."

Ojea Quintana said Myanmar was lobbying member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council to end his mandate, which currently goes to May 2014. He felt continuing scrutiny was needed.

Foreign investors seeking opportunities in mineral-rich Myanmar should ensure their operations have a positive impact, ranging from ensuring workers' rights to avoiding "land grabs".

"The international community is now facing a kind of tension between two kinds of interests. There is a strong interest in economics and lots of countries all over the world right now want to start doing business with Myanmar.”

Last Mod: 09 Mart 2013, 10:27
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