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The costly fallout from decades-long militarisation in Burma’s border regions shows little sign of abating, according to UN special envoy Tomas Quintana, who said he sees “no commitment” from the government towards solving the crisis.
Speaking to DVB in Bangkok on Monday, Quintana was critical of the lack of progress shown by the Burmese government since it came to power in late March. The UN envoy, who has spearheaded the push for a probe into whether crimes against humanity are being committed in Burma, had been preparing for a visit to the country but was denied a visa.
Instead he met with a number of Thailand-based Burmese human rights groups whom he said reported a continuation of the sort of abuses sanctioned by the previous junta.
“Human rights abuses are ongoing in the country because of militarisation in the border areas,” he said. “The problems are still there, and I don’t see a real commitment from authorities in Myanmar [Burma] to solve this problem, other than further militarisation.”
Quintana’s pessimism contrasts sharply with reports from top UN official Vijay Nambiar, who said following a visit earlier this month that he had seen some “very encouraging” signs from the Burmese government.
Nambiar’s comments attracted widespread criticism from right groups who felt he had been duped by the new leaders, many of whom were key players in the previous ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). One such ruse that the likes of Human Rights Watch have angrily responded to is the recent prisoner amnesty, which saw only 50 political activists released.
Quintana said the move was “disappointing”, but that he hoped pledges from the Burmese government that the country is transitioning to civilian rule “will be translated into action”.
He added that parliament had thrown up some interesting developments, with MPs appearing to be given greater freedom to question ministers. “Some interesting questions were formulated by some members of the parliament,” he said. “For example, questions about the ceasefire in Kayin [Karen] state, the release of young political leaders, and the granting of citizenship to Rohingya – these are important at this moment in the country.”