23 May 2011

UN envoy: Myanmar does little to stop rights abuse

BANGKOK - The United Nations' human rights envoy to Myanmar said on Monday that the country's nascent civilian government has done little to address widespread abuses, including forced labour and extrajudicial killings, since replacing the ruling junta in March.

Elections last year for a new parliament and the installation of civilian leaders this spring were supposed to be the final steps of what Myanmar's military leaders had hailed as their 'roadmap to democracy.' But UN envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana told reporters in Bangkok that 'democracy requires much more.'

Myanmar's government is currently refusing to allow Mr Quintana to visit the Southeast Asian nation. The envoy spoke after a weeklong trip to Thailand to talk with refugees from Myanmar. Thailand is home to more than 100,000 people who have fled the neighbouring country.

Mr Quintana said violence continues along Myanmar's eastern border region, and ethnic minority groups there are victims of 'land confiscation, forced labour, internal displacement, extrajudicial killings and sexual violence.'

These abuses 'are widespread, they continue today, and they remain essentially unaddressed by the authorities,' Mr Quintana said.

In Myanmar's eastern Kayah state, for example, both men and women have fled out of fear of being conscripted into the military, he said. There is such a deficit of schools there that some parents send their children to refugee camps in Thailand for basic education, he added. -- The Straits Times

No comments: