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    Myanmar to engage with OIC on Muslim’s rights

    October 28, 2013

    UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Quintana
    told AA., Myanmar Muslims are now facing “segregation that is becoming
    permanent,” since they are living in isolated shelters built by

    The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) with some other states
    at the United Nations Headquarters — is pursuing its own resolution on human
    rights record in Myanmar and the suffering of the local Muslim population in Rakhine State, the
    UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana told AA.

    “It seems that there is going to be a resolution by consent (at the
    United Nations) and with the consent of the government of Myanmar,” Quintana told AA. He stressed that
    is a “good news,” since UN always was looking for intergovernmental engagement.

    OIC takes initiative   

    “The government of Myanmar is now engaging with OIC. The Organization of
    the Islamic Conference may go to the country and visit Rakhine state which is a
    good news,” Quintana told AA. He said there are between 800,000 and one
    million Muslims in Myanmar (Burma) – the nation with
    total of some 60 million inhabitants – according to the 2010 census.

    Historical records show – Myanmar’s Muslims have been endangered mostly since
    1960s when the army usurped the power in that country. But the biggest
    escalation happened in June 2012 when dozens of innocent Muslims were killed by the Myanmar’s
    army and the Buddhist mobs in Muslimmajority province of Arakan. According to the Western media reports
    — over 500 Muslim villages have been incinerated so
    far and the persecution of the local Muslims is still going on.

    Segregation is becoming permanent

    In fact, Mr. Quintana told AA, there is the “new element to that,”
    saying, Myanmar Muslims are now also facing “segregation that
    is becoming permanent,” since they are living in isolated shelters built by
    government. It was not like that in the past, he said.

    “There is a pattern of discrimination against Rohingya Muslims but they were not segregated. They
    were living together in a Rokhan state with some other Buddhist. But the
    segregation now is becoming a permanent policy,” Quintana said. He added there
    are now IDP (Internal Displaced Persons) camps put for Muslims in which they are isolated without
    allowing them to go back to their land.

    “The reality is – it is becoming permanent,” Quintana said to Anadolu

    Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana from Argentina was appointed Special Rapporteur
    to follow the human rights violations in Myanmar by the United Nations Human
    Rights Council in May, 2008. He is independent from any government or
    organization and serves in his individual capacity, UN said.

    Extended Anti-Muslim sentiments

    During his visit to UN Headquarters where he presented his report to the
    UN General Assembly Third Committee that deals with human rights, Mr.
    Quintana warned that the situation in Rakhine state was helping “to feed a
    wider anti-Muslim narrative in Myanmar.” He warned,
    that was posing one of the most serious threats to the reform process.

    However, Quintana told AA, there are leaders within the community,
    “including Buddhist monks, who are playing a positive role in addressing the
    discrimination and violence against Muslim populations.”
    He stressed: “These voices need to be heard and supported.”

    Talking about human rights in general in Myanmar, UN expert acknowledged that the
    local government is showing a greater willingness to address the known issues.
    Quintana said he was allowed by local government and has visited  Myanmar
    eight times — including three times Rakhine State.

    UN as well as US and other Western states, including Turkey continue to
    encourage Myanmar toward freedom and democracy.

    Although visible progress has been made, particularly in freeing
    political prisoners and some freedom of the media, including — Nobel peace
    prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi being allowed partway into local politics- the
    government in Myanmar was “until recently one of the most repressive regimes in
    the world,” US daily The Washington Post reported last week.

    Investigation needed

    “The Government has yet to fulfill its obligation under international
    human rights law to investigate the allegations of widespread human rights
    violations, including by the security forces, reportedly committed during and
    after last year’s violence and to hold the perpetrators to account,” Quintana
    said as well.

    UN expert presented his final report to the UN General Assembly in New
    York last Thursday, as he completes the six years on the mandate next spring.
    The Human Rights Council is scheduled to appoint a new Special Rapporteur on
    Myanmar in March 2014.

    Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana is a lawyer who worked at the Inter-American
    Commission of Human Rights. He was also the executive director of the OHCHR
    Program for Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Bolivia. He has
    represented the NGO “Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo” in child abduction cases during
    the military regime in Argentina.