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The OHCHR Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana visited Human Rights Now

Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations's Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and Human Rights Officers of the OHCHR, came to Japan prior to his official visit to Myanmar in February 2013 in order to have discussions with representatives of Japanese agencies and NGOs.

Mr. Quintana visited the office of Human Rights Now on the 9th February, and exchanged views and information with the NGO's members including the Secretary General, Ms. Kazuko Ito.

Human Rights Now also coordinated a meeting with civil organizations dealing with the issues surrounding democratization and human rights in Myanmar, such as Mekong Watch, Forum Opinions of Burma, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, and also provided the opportunity for Myanmar residents in Japan as well as other ethnic minorities to share their opinions.

Human Rights Now expressed concerns about serious human rights violations in Kachin State and other areas where minorities live, and the Special Rapporteur in turn shared his own concerns about the conflicts and violence in Kachin State and Arakan State.

In addition to these issues, members and Mr. Quintana also discussed the risk of human rights violations arising as a result of overseas investment and business ventures in Myanmar, with the greatest activity in this area coming from Japan.

The Special Rapporteur spoke of the importance of improving the human rights situation in Myanmar, not just by highlighting the development of this country, but also by highlighting the suffering experienced by its citizens.

The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern over current discussions for changing Myanmar's designation under the Human Rights Council Agenda from Agenda Item 4 (Human Rights Situations that Require the Council's Attention) to Agenda Item 10 (Technical Assistance and Capacity Building), which could result in human rights issues failing to be adequately addressed.

Furthermore, at odds with these discussions, the UN has provided information for establishing an OHCHR Country Office within Myanmar, pointing out that this office must have all the functions for not only technical cooperation but also research capacity.

The meeting with Mr. Quintana lasted five hours in total, and proved to be a significant opportunity for the exchange of opinions.