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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   23 August 2013  
Myanmar moves forward to bring further improvements: UN envoy

Myanmar is moving forward in a significant number of areas which has brought positive changes to the human rights situation and has the potential to bring further improvements, United Nations Human Rights Envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana told a press conference here Wednesday evening at the end of his ten-day mission to the Southeast Asian nation.

However, he said there are still critical challenges including the historical need of reconciliation with ethnic groups, adding that more space needs to be opened up for their voices to be heard.

He reaffirmed his willingness to work constructively and cooperatively with Myanmar during the transition to improve the human rights situation of its people.

Quintana arrived in Myanmar on Aug. 11 for a 10-day visit at the invitation of the government to visit several states and meet officials from the government and civic groups.

During his 10-day mission in Myanmar, Quintana disclosed that he met related ministers, parliamentarians, the chief justice and attorney-general, members of the Letpadaung Implementation Committee, advisors of the president, National Human Rights Commission and visited prisons.

He also met Aung San Suu Kyi and discussed a broad range of human rights issues.

Giving an account of his visit to northern Kachin state and western Rakhine state, he was encouraged by the recent inclusion of the seven-point agreement signed by the government and the Kachin Independence Organization at the end of May this year, adding that there still remained a serious challenge regarding the implementation of the provisions.

As he toured areas where communal clashes occurred including Sittway in the western state of Rakhine, he welcomed the assurances that there was no two-child policy in place for the Muslim populations.

He also believed that the central and state governments need to pursue coordinated policies which comprehensively address the spread of discriminatory views and practices in Rakhine state.

However, during his tour to Meikhtila in the Mandalay Region, Quintana met with demonstration by local people for one-sided report of human rights as officially reported and his car was descended upon by a crowd of around 200 people who proceeded to punch and kick the windows and doors of the car while shouting abusive comments on his way to visit an internally displaced persons camp containing about 1,600 displaced Muslims following the March violence.

He also visited other ethnic minority areas including Shan State and Chin State.

Concerning prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, he reiterated that all remaining political prisoners should be released by the end of the year according to the encouraging announcement of the president.

He also expressed his thanks for the government for the freedom of movement and access he was granted, which enabled him to develop a comprehensive assessment of the human rights situation on the ground.

It was the eighth visit of Quintana since being appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur in March 2008.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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