Representatives of 24 political parties in Burma on Friday demanded the removal of U.N. special rapporteur on human rights Tomas Quintana, calling him biased in his reporting on ethnic conflicts in the Southeast Asian nation.
Quintana had called last week for an “independent and credible investigation” into ongoing violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and stateless Muslim Rohingyas in Burma’s Rakhine state which he visited at the invitation of President Thein Sein’s government.
But in a meeting in Burma’s former capital Rangoon with an aide to U.N. special advisor on Burma Vijay Nambiar, representatives of two dozen political parties called for Quintana to be replaced, charging him with taking the Rohingyas’ side in the conflict.
Quintana had described the situation in the western Burmese state as “serious,” saying he was concerned at allegations of serious human rights violations committed as part of government measures to restore law and order.
“They include the excessive use of force by security and police personnel, arbitrary arrest and detention, killings, the denial of due process guarantees, and the use of torture in places of detention,” he said.
Quintana was accused of making a biased judgment by the political parties.
“Quintana went to Rakhine and made an assessment that was unfair and biased toward one side,” said Than Than Nu, general secretary of the Democratic Party of Myanmar [Burma]. A full list of the parties that attended the meeting was not immediately available.
Party representatives at the meeting with the U.N.’s Marianne Hagen also accused Quintana of calling for the Rohingya, a stateless group, to be named as one of Burma’s ethnic nationalities.
“He should be replaced with someone else,” Nu said.
Burma does not recognize the Rohingya as one of its ethnic groups, considering them instead to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though large numbers of Rohingya have lived in Burma for generations.
Speaking to reporters last week, Quintana highlighted what he called “systematic discrimination” against the Rohingya community, citing a host of concerns including the Burmese government’s denial of citizenship or other legal status to the group, as well as restrictions on freedom of movement and marriage.
The U.N. says that about 800,000 Rohingyas live in Burma and that they are one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
Reported by Moe Thu Aung for RFA’s Burmese service. Translated by Win Naing. Written in English by Richard Finney.