World, Asia - Pacific

Myanmar denies access to UN investigator

Authorities also not cooperating with Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission on Myanmar

20.12.2017
Myanmar denies access to UN investigator

By Fatih Erel

GENEVA

A UN investigator, who had been due to visit Myanmar in January had to assess the human rights situation, said on Wednesday “all access to the country” has been denied.

"It is a shame that Myanmar has decided to take this route," Yanghee Lee, the UN’s special rapporteur, said in a statement.

"The Government has repeatedly denied violations of human rights are occurring throughout Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine State. They have said that they have nothing to hide, but their lack of cooperation with my mandate and the fact-finding mission suggests otherwise," said Lee.

Myanmar authorities have also not been cooperating with the Human Rights Council’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, established in March 2017, the statement read.

"I am puzzled and disappointed by this decision by the Myanmar Government.

"This declaration of non-cooperation with my mandate can only be viewed as a strong indication that there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine, as well as in the rest of the country," Lee said.

Since Aug. 25, more than 656,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN. The refugees are fleeing a military operation that has seen security forces and Buddhist mobs kill men, women and children, loot homes and torch Rohingya villages.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published on Dec. 12, the global humanitarian organization said that the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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