A UN independent expert on Monday urged [press release] Myanmar [BBC profile] to address shortcomings in reforming its human rights situation. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar [official website] Tomas Ojea Quintana warned the country of the possibility that the current reformation process may be endangered by leaving areas of importance untouched, especially related to the states of Rakhine and Kachin. He noted that the situations in those states could escalate and detrimentally affect Myanmar's efforts. Quintana acknowledged that numerous improvements have been made but that there is room for improvements. He stressed that those responsible for the violence in Rakhine state must be brought to justice. In addition, he noted that those who were displaced by the fighting which began in June 2011 between rebels and government troops in Kachin state have to be cared for by providing humanitarian organizations with regular access.
Quintana made similar calls last month when he commended the lack of reform [JURIST report] that has been achieved in Myanmar. Concern over Myanmar's human rights record has been growing recently, as the country has attempted to normalize relationships with the US. In January the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) [official website] reported that more than 2,000 people have fled the growing violence [JURIST report] in the northern Myanmar state of Rakhine and Bangladesh, leaving aboard boats operated by smugglers in the Bay of Bengal. In October Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called for an end to the sectarian violence in Myanmar [JURIST report] between the Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, calling on the government to do more to end the violence and protect the rights of the Rohingya, whose civil rights were effectively taken away with their citizenship in 1982. In August Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) [advocacy website] reported that Myanmar's army is still committing human rights abuses [JURIST report] against ethnic minorities in Karen state. Earlier that month HRW accused [JURIST report] Myanmar security forces of human rights abuses against a minority religious community. In July UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also expressed concern [JURIST report] about both the continued violence in Myanmar and the country's human rights abuses committed in dealing with it.