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Investigate Myanmar violence, U.N. says

Aug. 6, 2012 at 1:38 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Reconciliation in parts of Myanmar won't be possible without a concise account of events on the ground, a U.N. humanitarian official said.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special envoy on human rights in Myanmar, said at the conclusion of a 6-day visit to the country that the situation in Rakhine state was serious.

Human Rights Watch, in a 56-page report last week, said authorities in Myanmar were skirting their security obligations with their lax response to an outbreak of violence in Rakhine state in June in western Myanmar. At least 78 people have died in the regional conflict pitting Muslims against Buddhists.

Myanmar received praise by the international community for the series of political advancements made since general elections in 2010. Quintana said he was encouraged by those developments but expressed concern over the human rights situation in the country.

"The human rights situation in Rakhine state is serious," he said in a statement. "I witnessed the widespread suffering of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of the violence and express my sympathy to the victims from both communities."

The use of force in Rakhine by police, he said, was "excessive." Reconciliation, however, won't be possible until authorities "clearly establish what has happened in Rakhine state and to ensure accountability."

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