UN envoy discusses repatriation, landmines with border groups

Following on from his dramatic fact finding trip to Burma last week, when his car was attacked by religious fanatics, Mr Tomas Ojea Quintana, a United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, paid a visit to the Thai-Burma Border to meet with civil society groups.

Mr. Quintana met with the border-based groups in the Thai town of Mae Sot to hear their concerns about the current situation in Burma. Mr. Quintana met with the Karen Women Organization (KWO), the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG), the Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT), Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) and representative of the Border Consortium (TBC).

Speaking to Karen News, the KWO’s chairwoman, Nan Dah Eh Kler said Mr.Quintana met with groups for one and half hours and the main discussion were on drugs, landmines, healthcare, education and the current peace building process in Burma.

“Since the government and ethnic armed groups signed a preliminary ceasefire, human rights are still being violated – it’s only the methods that have changed. The government army is fortifying its position. We also discuss the growing use of drugs and trafficking in Karen State.”

A member of KHRG, who was at the meeting with Mr Quintana, told Karen News that discussions about the repatriation of refugees and displaced people was raised at the meeting.

“A lack of trust in the ceasefire stage makes de-mining difficult. It is [landmines] still dangerous for both IDP’s and villagers. In relation to the refuges repatriation issue, we [KHRG] spoke about the dangers of landmines as they are still exploding and people are still getting injured.”

At his press conference in Yangoon International airport on August 21, Mr Quintana accused a mob of 200 who blocked and attacked his car while on his trip to Meikhtila, Burma, on August 19. Mr Quintana was in Meikhtila to inquire into the anti- Muslim riots in March that killed at least 43 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands.

Mr.Quintana’s is scheduled to summit his latest Burma report to the UN General Assembly on October 24.

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