News / Asia

    UN Rights Expert: Endemic Discrimination in Burma

    Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN human rights envoy to Burma, talks to journalists during a press conference at Rangoon International Airport, Burma, August 4, 2012.Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN human rights envoy to Burma, talks to journalists during a press conference at Rangoon International Airport, Burma, August 4, 2012.
    Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN human rights envoy to Burma, talks to journalists during a press conference at Rangoon International Airport, Burma, August 4, 2012.
    Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN human rights envoy to Burma, talks to journalists during a press conference at Rangoon International Airport, Burma, August 4, 2012.
    Margaret Besheer
    The United Nations human rights expert monitoring the situation in Burma has expressed concern over continued sectarian violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities in the country.
    Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana told reporters Thursday that addressing longstanding human rights issues needs to be an integral part of Burma’s reform process. He said the situation in Rakhine state, where several people were killed and more than 1,000 homes reportedly burned in violence this week, illustrates the need for root causes to be addressed.
    “I believe that the government must address ... the impact of deep-rooted prejudices and discriminatory attitudes based on ethnicity and religion," he said. "In this respect, I urge the government to take measures to address endemic discrimination against the Rohingya community and ensure respect for their human rights, which should include a review of the 1982 Citizenship Act."
    That law details who qualifies for citizenship, and human rights groups say it discriminates against the country’s Rohingya Muslim population.
    Despite having lived in Burma — or Myanmar as it is also known — for generations, they are denied nationality, and most Buddhists in Burma consider them to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
    Quintana's report notes that the Rohingya, which number around 800,000 in Rakhine, are subject to restrictions on movement, education and employment. While he says there are controls placed on their marriages, and harsh penalties for those who marry without obtaining a permit, there is some government interest in resolving the situation.
    “I visited last August, Myanmar, and I found part of the authorities ready to look for solutions — sincere commitments to find solutions and to assure humanitarian access to all ethnic communities in Rakhine state," he said, cautioning that they had not yet made "proper decisions toward a real solution.”
    The Special Rapporteur, an independent human rights expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, also expressed concern about living conditions in camps for displaced Rohingya and urged the government to ensure aid workers are given access to them.
    Tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine broke out in June over allegations that Rohingya Muslim men had raped a Rakhine girl. A mob attacked and killed a busload of Muslims and spiraling revenge attacks have left close to 90 people dead and tens of thousands homeless.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: myoyinkyay from: yangon
    October 30, 2012 12:04 AM
    I wish to ask the human rights expert why you didn't envisage this will happen in future in Rakhine State if your group was doing Endemic Discrimination in Burma. You and your group are also bias.

    by: Sam from: Whasington
    October 25, 2012 6:34 PM
    Be honest guys.
    What about Endemic Discrimination in America?
    Banks are thieving at best, Government bailing them out.
    Millions of homes are burned in America by Wall Street.
    Anybody talk about it in UN?

    by: Charles Jui from: Salt Lake City
    October 25, 2012 6:34 PM
    As a boy in the early 1970's, I recall meeting Chinese-Burmese refugee children who described a military junta in Burma that tried to eradicate the teaching of Chinese among the ethnic Chinese (read: Buddhist) population. They told me about how they held secret Chinese language schools. Given that ethnic Chinese (read: Buddhist) are still not allowed to attend universities and colleges in Indonesia and Malaysia, I have no doubt that suppression of the Chinese language will continue in Burma will beyond the current "liberalization".

    by: Anonymous
    October 25, 2012 6:00 PM
    Muslims gang robbed many buddhist villages to drive them from town . The latest one being a gang rape case.
    Rakhine killed 10 on the bus not bus load .
    Rohingyas Muslims then launched the riot on June 8
    This is a US sponsored news website , please provide the correct info.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.