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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora