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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quintana shows disrespect to Buddhist monk, locals say


UN special rapporteur Quintana meeting with the venerable monk from Shwezedi Monastery in Sittwe on August 13 (Photo – Than Hlaing/EMG)
Local residents in Rakhine State's capital Sittwe have criticized UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana for showing 'disrespectful' manners during his meeting with a venerable monk in Sittwe on Tuesday.
"He was wearing his shoes on the monastery ground. He only took off his shoes when he went inside the building, but he did not take off his socks. I understand that he doesn't have to pay obedience to the venerable monk due to religious differences but he shouldn't have sat cross-legged in front of the venerable monk," said a monk from Shwezedi Monastery.
Nyana, chairman of Sittwe Monk's Association of Rules and Regulations and Assistance, also condemned Quintana's disrespectful manners.
"He didn't show any respectful manners toward the monk. It looked like he was arguing with the venerable monk instead of paying his respect. He asked some questions to the Shwezedi venerable monk, but he cut the monk off while the monk was explaining about the history. He told him not to talk about the history and only talk about the current situation. The venerable monk was only replying to him because he asked the question. No matter what the religious difference is, it's a moral code to respect a religion. It seems like the officials who came with Mr. Quintana didn't tell him anything," said Nyana. 
UN special rapporteur Quintana meeting with a religious leader in Aungmingalar (Inparlar) ward in Sittwe on August 13 (Photo – Than Hlaing/EMG)
United Nations has called for another round of discussion to deal with the communal violence between the Rakhine and the Bengali communities after a recent visit by UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana to Rakhine State.
"UNHCR has repeatedly asked for holding peaceful discussions to build understanding between the Myanmar Government and the Bengalis. We believe that from holding that kind of discussions can hinder the clashes that may occur in the future," said Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for UNHCR in Geneva.
The appeal came after UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Quintana arrived in Rakhine State as part of a 10 day visit of Myanmar to assess the human rights situation in the country.  
Mr. Qiuntana has visited many places in Rakhine State. Among the places he has visited including refugee camps where majority of Bangalis resided, Win Myaing the spokesperson of Rakhine State Government said.
Rakhine nationals however protested the UN envoy's arrival in Sittwe on Monday saying he has ignored local residents and only met with displaced Bengali communities. 
Sittwe resident Thar Pwint has also criticized Quintana for holding special meetings with the Bengalis while failing to listen to local residents.
"After Mr. Quintana arrived in Rakhine State, he met with Bengali prisoners at the Butitaung Prison on the first day. He also met with Bengali prisoners at the Sittwe Prison in the early morning on the second day. Both sides were involved in the Rakhine violence so why did he only meet with the Bengalis? There are also Rakhine [prisoners] in the Sittwe Prison due to this violence. When he met with the judge, he requested for the release of these Bengali prisoners. When he visited the Sittwe hospital, he only held a special meeting with Bengali patients. He spent two hours in his meeting with Bengali religious leaders in Aungmingalar, a Bengali ward. But he didn't arrive in time to meet with Sittwe residents so the residents didn't get enough time to discuss within the limited time. As he is a 'one-sided' person, we've only met him but we didn't discuss anything.  That's why we regard that he only came to observe the Bengali issue from a one-sided view," said Thar Pwint.
Many ethnic Rakhine citizens see the UN as being one sided in their efforts to provide assistance to victims of the recent clashes. Quintana proceeded to Kachin State and arrived back to Yangon on Thursday. 

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