News / Asia

    UN Envoy Blames Burmese Government for Lack of Security

    U.N. Human Rights envoy to Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana speaks during a press conference before he departs from Yangon International Airport Aug. 21, 2013.
    U.N. Human Rights envoy to Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana speaks during a press conference before he departs from Yangon International Airport Aug. 21, 2013.
    A U.N. envoy, on an official trip to Burma, has told reporters his convoy came under attack this week by a Buddhist mob and authorities did not protect him. 

    U.N. human-rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana recounted how a crowd of about 200 people punched and kicked the windows and doors of his car while shouting abuse at him Monday in Meiktila, in central Burma.

    Speaking to reporters just before departing the country after a 10-day visit, Quintana said the state had an obligation to protect him.

    “And that did not happen," he said. "They failed to protect me in that situation.  And this issue was raised with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and other authorities.”

    The demonstrators denounced the U.N special investigator on human rights as biased in his assessment of the troubles between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

    People protest U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana in Mektila, Burma, August 19, 2013. (VOA Burmese Service)People protest U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana in Mektila, Burma, August 19, 2013. (VOA Burmese Service)
    x
    People protest U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana in Mektila, Burma, August 19, 2013. (VOA Burmese Service)
    People protest U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana in Mektila, Burma, August 19, 2013. (VOA Burmese Service)
    The town of Mektila is where violence against Muslims left at least 44 people dead in March.

    Quintana says the incident prevented him from visiting a camp where 1,600 displaced Muslims have taken shelter.

    The experience, according to Quintana, gave him “insight into the fear residents would have felt when being chased down by violent mobs” during the attacks in the town five months ago.

    During a visit to Arakan state last week, Quintana also encountered Buddhist protesters accusing him of bias.

    But Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch says many other Burmese have appreciated Quintana's scrutiny of sectarian strife in the country.

    “His attention in some of the ethnic areas, for instance looking at the situation with the Kachin, has been welcomed by many people on the ground," he said. "Perhaps the government does not like it. But the government is only one aspect of this, it is only [one] player in this scenario. And the larger international community, plus civil society, see him as playing a positive role.”

    The watchdog group, Physicians for Human Rights, is warning that Burma risks “catastrophic” levels of conflict, including the possibility of genocide, if authorities do not halt hate speech against Muslims and the culture of impunity in regards to ethnic violence.

    Religious violence in the past year in the country has left 250 people dead, mostly Muslims, and another 140,000 have fled their homes.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Pyie Sone(Myanmar) from: Singapore
    August 25, 2013 2:21 AM
    This UN Envoy show respect toward(bow his head..etc) those Muslims in Sittwe Prison. But did not even bother to take off his sock when visited a Monastery which is completely against the Burmese culture and religion. I guess the Saudis are paying his Salary not the UN.

    by: tsp from: Myanmar
    August 23, 2013 12:29 PM
    Now Muslim people know what is pain and how is attack another religious , Now Muslim people know what another religious think they are . They think they can attack WTC and London Subway . They think they can cut off head to another religious people. Do you settle your own Muslim country problem Don't think you can hurt and bully to another , because of you are Muslim ?

    by: Jordan from: Burma
    August 23, 2013 2:50 AM
    Burmese people have revealed their true colour to the world by their barbaric action against the UN special envoy and by extension, the international community. If the world doesn't believe it yet, just look at the narrow-minded racists here in this comment section.

    by: Kyi Soe from: Yangon, Myanmar
    August 22, 2013 3:50 AM
    "What"

    Did you say that Myanmar government didn't provide enough security for you?

    Let me ask you! Quintanwar! Do you think of yourself as a human being?
    "OK!"
    Instead of barking before you were about to leave our country, you should have proved that you are a real human being by behaving with decent words and manners before you came to our country.
    We recognize the word of human right you referred only for the human beings exclusively.
    Let Wé Thon (Hanlin)

    by: joe from: Yangon
    August 22, 2013 2:05 AM
    Dear , Tomas Ojea Quintana , if you not respect Buddhist people in Myanmar , better you don't come . Because of people in Myanmar are civilized now , so you can't lie and you can't cheat anymore in future . Please note this in next time and you knew what you try to do in our country , don't be a Mr Good .

    by: Minn from: Aung
    August 21, 2013 7:17 PM
    OK, You better don't come anymore... FzzzK u
    In Response

    by: Karl from: Sittwe
    August 22, 2013 1:19 AM
    Sir Quintana.... instead of being an enabler of the jihadi talibans who are trying to invade and colonize our country, why don't you worry about the Coptic Christians in Egypt?!?
    In Response

    by: Aung
    August 21, 2013 9:28 PM
    yea!!! It is the best way...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora