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UN rights expert urges investigation into sectarian violence in Myanmar

A UN rights expert on Saturday urged an independent investigation into sectarian violence taking place in the Myanmar [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] state of Rakhine. After spending a week in Myanmar, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, warned [AP report] that democratic reforms will not be successful in the country unless the government focuses on human rights in the country. Quintana claimed that Myanmar was suffering as a result of clashes between the country's Buddhists and minority Rohingya [BBC backgrounder] Muslim community, which have left 78 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. Quintana reported human rights violations by the country's security forces, including arbitrary arrests, killings and torture. This report comes a week after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] about the continued violence and human rights violations prevalent in Myanmar's Rakhine state since clashes began in May. Pillay said that independent reports alleging "discriminatory and arbitrary responses by security forces, and even their instigation of and involvement in clashes" are being continuously received.

Myanmar has been unsuccessful [JURIST report] in resolving the sectarian violence prevalent in the country despite attempts by President Thein Sein [BBC profile; official website, in Burmese] to bring peace to the communities, making the country subject to international criticism. On Thursday the US Congress on a voice vote approved a bill extending the ban on imports from Myanmar. Both the House of Representative and the Senate [official websites] have approved the bill, sending it to President Barack Obama [official profile] to sign in order to become law. On Wednesday Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released [JURIST report] a 56-page document [report, PDF] accusing Myanmar security forces of human rights abuses against a minority religious community in June.

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