Myanmar dismisses UN envoys ‘one-sided’ human rights report

Myanmar has criticized a report to the United Nations on the human rights situation in the country as being one-sided and pessimistic, with its representative to the body dismissing the report by UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojae-Quintana as “hardly acceptable”.

“It’s like blaming a donut for its hole,” said Myanmar’s permanent representative to the UN, U Kyaw Tin.

The 23-page report was tabled at the UN General Assembly last week. It praises the release of political prisoners, but calls for an easing of restrictions on demonstrations and protests, a more equitable sharing of resources between the national and regional governments and greater efforts to ensure the ceasefires reached with armed ethnic groups are enforced.

U Kyaw Tin cited an adage to explain the government’s opinion of the report. “The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole,” he said, explaining that Mr. Ojae-Quintana’s report missed the donut.

U Kyaw Tin said that Mr. Ojae-Quintana’s observations and assessments were one-sided and ignored assessments of the human rights situation by the government.

Mr. Ojae-Quintana told the UN General Assembly that the report was submitted to allow international leaders to make informed decisions about Myanmar based on the real situation faced by citizens.

The report will be used to guide further UN resolutions on Myanmar.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at New York-based Human Rights Watch, described Mr. Ojea-Quintana’s report as “extraordinarily fine”, saying it clearly identifies the challenges Myanmar faces in improving its human rights record.

U Kyaw Tin said the report should have been careful not to harm the reform process and national unity, and that it should be practical and include positive suggestions.

Mr. Ojae-Quintana’s six year term ends in March. He has visited the country seven times since President Thein Sein ushered in a quasi-civilian government, most recently in August.