The United Nations expert on human rights in Burma has arrived in the country, days after the UN voiced fears that efforts to end unrest in Rakhine state had turned into a crackdown on Muslims.
UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana flew into the main city of Rangoon late on Sunday for a visit set to include a trip to the restive western state as well as meetings with Burma’s president and civil society.
It comes after a warning by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay that Muslim communities in Rakhine, particularly the Rohingya minority, were being targeted by security forces.
“We have been receiving a stream of reports from independent sources alleging discriminatory and arbitrary responses by security forces, and even their instigation of and involvement in clashes,” she said in a statement on Friday.
Quintana says Burma has made “significant” progress on reforms under President Thein Sein, who came to power last year, but said the country faced “ongoing human rights challenges”.
Unofficial estimates of the death toll were higher, the UN said.
Burma’s government considers the estimated 800,000 Rohingya in the country to be foreigners while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh and view them with hostility.
Earlier this month, Thein Sein told the UN that refugee camps or deportation was the “solution” for the Rohingya, according to his official website.
Quintana is set to meet the Burmese leader in the capital, Naypyidaw, on Friday following a trip to Rakhine state.
Quintana’s visit is due to last until Saturday.
(www.theaustralian.com.au / 29.07.2012)