The United Nations special envoy on human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, released the statement below at a news conference at Yangon International Airport on February 19 before leaving the country after his last visit in his UN role.
Myanmar’s sweeping reforms since 2011 have captured the world’s attention, provoking both approbation and criticism.
An historic conference of the Chin people earlier this month brought together more than 500 delegates for the second such gathering of its kind in 65 years.
22 Nov How Myanmar could be
In Yangon two weeks ago, I caught a glimpse of how Myanmar could be. In the garden of a restaurant that was once the office of Burma’s independence leader, General Aung San, 150 people gathered for dinner. They came from a wide range of backgrounds, representing different religions, ethnicities, political parties and civil society organisations. They came to hear a message about religious and ethnic diversity, harmony and peace-building.
I am a Shan woman from Myanmar who has been working for human rights and democracy in my homeland for decades. I had the opportunity this year to spend time at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington as a visiting fellow, researching the role of women in Myanmar’s democratic transition. During my time in Washington, I remained in touch with my colleagues in Myanmar and areas along the border to keep track of the changes that were taking place. But instead of hearing excitement in their voices about democratic openings, I heard growing fear.