The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar [official website], Tomas Ojea Quintana, on Thursday applauded [press release] recent government efforts to encourage a culture of respect between clashing political and religious sects but recognized the need for increased government action on a wide array of issues. While restrictions on Christianity have been removed in one state, the next state still struggles with Buddhist and Muslim retaliatory violence, while yet another region still must address the mandatory release of all prisoners of conscience. The most concerning event, however, occurred in Meiktila of the Mandalay Region, the site of 43 murders related to mob violence in March [JURIST report]. Quintana expressed his hopes that the internal stabilization of human rights he witnessed in some regions would continue to spread to the rest of the country.
Concern over Myanmar's sectarian violence and human rights record [JURIST news archive] has been growing recently, as the country has attempted to normalize relationships with the US. Last month Quintana praised the release of 73 prisoners of conscience [JURIST report] when the president granted immunity to all those held. This came as a response to a demand from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] that the government of Myanmar do more to combat religious and ethnic discrimination [JURIST report] against minorities or risk undermining the reform movement in the country. In May and April Quintana worked closely [JURIST reports] with Myanmar officials to address concerns about the widespread persecution of Muslims and religion-based mob violence.