Home Insider Special Rapporteur Expressed Disappointment

Special Rapporteur Expressed Disappointment

After Yan Hee Lee, United Nations Special Rapporteur’s 12 day trip (from 10 to 21 July) to Myanmar, she made media conference and mentioned the States “had hardly improved” on illegal Bengali situation in Rakhine state since her last visit in January and disappointed to visit to Myanmar” at Yangon on July 21. She has issued a strongly worded statement accusing the Government of Myanmar of policies reminiscent of the previous military government, and of presiding over a worsening security and human rights situation. Her own movements had been severely restricted and access to crisis-hit areas remained off-limits even to international organizations. People who met her faced harassment and the Government had sought to place unprecedented pre-conditions on her visit.

“I am disappointed to see the tactics applied by the previous Government still being used,” said Lee, in her statement as her visit drew to a close. “I understand the new Government wishes to normalize its relations with the United Nations, but Myanmar must first become a country that deserves less attention and scrutiny.

“We are told not to expect Myanmar to transition into a democracy overnight – that it needs time and space,” she noted. “But in the same way, Myanmar should not expect to have its close scrutiny removed or its special monitoring mechanisms dismantled overnight. This cannot happen until there is real and discernible progress on human rights.”

Lee said the situation of the illegal Bengali (so called Rohingya) people from Rakhine State, many of whom have been forced from their homes amid reports of grave human rights violations, had hardly improved since her last visit in January.

“I continue to receive reports of violations allegedly committed by security forces during operations. There also appear to be incidents of them being targeted for applying to be verified as citizens, as well as village administrators and other Muslims targeted for being ‘collaborators’ for working with the authorities – leaving many of them terrified, and often caught between violence on both sides,” she said, adding that she was severely concerned about the treatment of prisoners.

The Special Rapporteur noted that the authorities have already recognized that State protection and security must extend not only to the Rakhine but also the Muslim communities. However, she said, “the Government must take concrete steps in this regard, including investigating all alleged violations, ending discriminatory practices and restoring freedom of movement.”

She said around 120,000 people from the area were still living in camps after fleeing their homes, and there was little prospect of a long-term solution. “Some people were told they would be in the camps for three days, but this has turned into five long years,” she added.

Concern was also growing over a worsening situation in Kachin and Shan states, the Special Rapporteur noted, with lack of access for international organizations a worsening feature in both.

“I was particularly dismayed to learn that the situation in northern Shan State is deteriorating, with reports of more conflict, more alleged rights violations by security forces and armed groups, and inadequate assistance for civilians.

The Special Rapporteur, who visited Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw as well as parts of Rakhine, Shan and Kayin States, said she had been “astonished” at Government attempts to limit her activities and movements. She was not permitted to visit Hsipaw in Shan State, where three journalists are being held in prison, even though it is a tourist destination. Other areas of the country were also placed off-limits.

On same day, to respond her comment,Office of State Counsellor released press release which declared disappointment toward the Special Rapporteur’s end of mission statement.

“Many Government representatives discussed with the Special Rapporteur about the challenges facing our country and our efforts to resolve them and committed to overcoming the challenges we face, during her visit. The step the Government has taken to promote development and communal harmony was also explained to the Special Rapporteur. We expected that the Special Rapporteur’s statement would reflect the difficulties of res-olving the problems that are a legacy of decades of internal conflict, iso-lation and underdevelopment. The resolutions were based on unsubstantiated allegations and a number of factual errors.

Lee will present a full report on her visit to the UN General Assembly in October 2017.