News / Asia

UN Human Rights Rapporteur Meets Burma Activists in Thailand

TEXT SIZE - +

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Burma has met with human rights groups and former political prisoners during a visit to Thailand. The information he gathered from the meetings is expected to be part of a report to the United Nations.

Tomas Quintana's four-day visit included trips to the Thai border town of Mae Sot, and the northern city of Chiang Mai, where he met with Burmese human rights groups.

Rights activists describe the United Nations special rapporteur's trip as a "fact-finding mission". United Nations sources said he left Thailand Monday evening.

Inside Burma

At Mae Sot, where thousands of Burmese refugees and exiles live, Quintana met with the Association Assistance for Political Prisoners in Burma.

"The reason why he visited the Thai-Burma border is to getting information about Burmese human rights violations," explained Bo Kyi, the association's joint secretary. "So therefore his visit to us we did discuss about torture, and inside Burma and then torture in prisons and then the judicial system in Burma, medication for political prisoners and prisoners - that is like what he discussed."

Bo Kyi says Quintana expressed frustration over Burma's rights situation. Human rights groups say Burma's military government holds more than 2,000 political prisoners, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest.  

Not many details


Other groups VOA contacted were reluctant to divulge details of the talks they had with Quintana. He did not meet with the news media on the trip.

Debbie Stothardt, spokeswoman for the Alternative ASEAN Network, says Quintana was seeking first-hand knowledge of the situation facing Burmese refugees in Thailand.

"It's a very practical move for Mr. Quintana to go to the border and to also see for himself some of the long-term consequences of the Burmese regime's human rights abuses," Stothardt said. "At least going to the border he will see for himself what impacts of the regime's human rights abuses have been."

Quintana had sought to make his fourth trip to Burma, but activists say the Burmese government did not grant him a visa.

Retaliation?

Rights groups say that may be a consequence of Qintana's call for a commission of inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity by Burma's government, known as the State Peace and Development Council or SPDC.

Stothardt says the refusal to grant a visa was a set-back.

"It's not a good sign that the SPDC has refused access to Burma especially at this time when the regime is supposedly organizing elections to improve the situation," she said.

The military says it will hold elections later this year, but no date has been announced. Rights groups say the election, the first in 20 years, and the country's new constitution will further entrench the military's influence.

Annual report

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Burma's government has been unresponsive in the U.N.'s efforts to discuss concerns over the election. He also said he is in the process of preparing an annual report to the General Assembly in which his views about Burma will be outlined.

Burma activists say Quintana is expected to submit a report on the government's rights violations later this year.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid