Mon, Aug 06, 2012 - Page 5 News List

UN envoy calls for Myanmar to set up ‘truth commission’

AFP, YANGON, MYANMAR

A UN envoy called on Saturday for the establishment of a “truth commission” into decades of human rights abuses in Myanmar to augment its ongoing transition to democracy.

A nationwide probe led by parliament into allegations of the abuse of dissidents and ethnic groups locked in conflict with the state is key to healing long-standing rifts, UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana said.

Speaking at the end of his visit to the former army-ruled state, Quintana urged Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government to heal festering wounds as the country steps out of the shadow of five decades of military rule.

“I remain of the opinion that addressing grievances from decades of human rights violations is crucial for democratic transition and national reconciliation,” he said late on Saturday.

“In this regard, I have discussed with different stakeholders, including ethnic groups, political party leaders, and members of parliament, the establishment of a truth commission,” he said.

During his visit Quintana also met with several UN staff held since recent unrest between Muslim Rohingya and ethnic Buddhists in Rakhine state, raising “serious concerns” about their treatment during their “unfounded” detention.

He called for their immediate release along with an end to the detention of all remaining political prisoners.

During military rule Myanmar’s junta brutally suppressed political and ethnic dissent and although fragile ceasefires have been signed with a number of minority rebel groups, conflict still rages in some areas, including northeastern Kachin state.

Since a quasi-civilian government replaced the junta last year, Myanmar has embarked on a series of democratic reforms including releasing hundreds of political prisoners, among them opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and holding elections which saw the Nobel prize winner win a seat as member of parliament.

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