Saturday, June 7, 2014

Outgoing UN rights Envoy to Burma concerned about Kachin situation

By KNG ( kachinnews)
Tomas Ojea Quintana
In a statement released on Friday outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, expressed his concerns about the ongoing conflict in Kachin and northern Shan state and recent reports of attacks on civilians by the Burma army.

“I have also received reports regarding resumed clashes and increased fighting in Kachin and Shan states. More worryingly, the army has been further accused of attacking civilians particularly internally displaced people (IDPs) in southern Kachin State,” Quintana said.

Quintana noted that addressing the “resettlement of IDP and refugee communities is just one of several challenging issues at stake” in Burma's ongoing peace process.

Quintana warned that the peace process must not be conducted without input from civil society.

“There also needs to be transparency in negotiations to allow for entire communities, and not just their leaders, to benefit from development projects and profitable business deals, and ensure that the interests of the communities are at the heart of such negotiations,” Quintana said.

Quintana who made several trip to Kachin state during his 6 year mandate including last year to the Kachin Independence Organization's (KIO) de-facto capital Laiza, was held in high regard by many observers for his commitment to his role.

Doubts raised about Quintana's successor Yanghee Lee

Korean university professor Yanghee Lee will take over Quintana's position of Special Rapporteur this week. But doubts have already been raised as to whether she will be as critical of Thein Sein's nominally civilian government given her association with a Korean human rights body that has been heavily criticised by human rights activists for being too subservient to the South Korean government.

According to most recent UN bio Lee currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea (NHRCK), South Korea's state funded human rights body which has been blasted by critics not probing numerous significant cases of alleged rights violations committed by South Korean authorities.

According to a statement issued in July 2012 by FORUM-ASIA, the Korean House for International Solidarity and the Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI): the “NHRCK has refused to take positions on human rights and act on violations committed by the government on numerous occasions, notably on “politically sensitive” issues, including the prohibition of demonstrations after sunset under Article 10 of the Assemblies and Demonstrations Act, as well as the defamation suit filed by the National Intelligence Service against human rights lawyer Park Won-soon.”

The NHRCK's failure to investigate cases that were embarrassing to South Korean government authorities has been cited by another UN Special Rapporteur as a serious problem. Following his 2010 visit to South Korea UN Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, noted in his report the NHRCK's failure to investigate complaints that were “politically sensitive” to the South Korean government.