Myanmar: UN Envoy calls Rohingya situation "serious"

Updated On: Aug 06, 2012

The United Nations human rights envoy to Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana has called the situation in Rakhine state "serious" and urged an independent investigation into recent sectarian violence, which has left at least 78 dead and thousands homeless.

Deatils of the clashes that took place between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya are unclear, as the area was virtually sealed off to the outside world.

Tensions between the two groups are longstanding, in part because many in Myanmar consider the Rohingya to be illegal settlers from neighbouring Bangladesh. According to the UN, there are approximately 800 000 Rohingya in Myanmar, and they remain among the most persecuted people in the world. On its part, Bangladesh has been turning back Rohingya boats arriving on its shores since the outbreak of the unrest.

Report: UN envoy urges probe into Myanmar violence (Al Jazeera, 5 August 2012)

Earlier last month, Myanmar President Thein Sein said that the 'solution' for the Rohingya was deportation or refugee camps. Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services, the UN says. Few accept in Myanmar accept the Rohingyas as true citizes, though many have lived in Myanmar for generations.

At the end of his six day visit to Myanmar, his sixth to the country, Mr Quintana also expressed "serious concern" about the treatment of six UN workers who were recently detained in Rakhine state. They were accused by Myanmar authorities of taking part in  violence and setting fire to villages - accusations Mr. Quintana said he believes are unfounded.

Admist excitement about Myanmar's reforms and emergence, commentators fear that the chances the Rohingya's suffering will be taken seriously are lower than usual. As reforms continue, the international community may fear that strong criticism of Myanmar at this time, may derail progress thus far.

Comment: Myanmar's persecuted Rohingyas: No place like home (The Economist, 1 August 2012)

Report: 'Campaign of violence' in Burma state - rights group (BBC News, 1 August 2012)

Report: Myanmar moots camps or deportation for Rohingyas (AFP, 12 July 2012)


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