UN envoy meets Kachin leaders, refugees

UN envoy meets Kachin leaders, refugees

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, visited Kachin State where he met with Kachin leaders and refugees on Sunday.

Quintana arrived in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State, on the morning of 16 February and met the Kachin State premier. In the evening he travelled to Laiza, the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), where he met representatives of the armed group. He later visited Kachin refugees at the nearby Je Yang refugee camp.

KIO central committee member Doi Pzar explained the meeting with the UN envoy.

“He [Quintana] came to Laiza on a human rights mission,” he said. “He told us he wanted to find out more about the ceasefire talks and the conditions for civilians. Our KIO chairman explained to Mr Quintana the history of the Kachin revolution and the history of repeated peace talks with successive Burmese governments. And, finally, he explained how nowadays we are also trying to achieve peace through political dialogue.”

The KIO committee member also spoke about Quintana’s meeting with refugees.

“He asked the refugees why they had come here. The IDPs told him there was no security in their hometowns due to the armed conflict. He asked them when they intend returning home, and the refugees said they want to go back but the situation is not stable. Burmese troops are stationed in their villages.”

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Sunday was the UN special rapporteur’s first visit to Laiza. On Monday he was scheduled to visit Latpadaung in the Monywa District of Sagaing Division where protests against a copper mine project have been ongoing.

Quintana is visiting Burma from 13– 19 February, his final trip to the country during his tenure as special rapporteur on human rights.

On Friday, he was met with protests by Arakanese Buddhists who have accused him and other UN agencies of bias in favour of Muslims and the Rohingya community, charges the UN has refuted.

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