Myanmar blocks UN investigator amid Rohingya crackdown


The United Nations (UN)’s independent investigator on the situation of human rights in Myanmar has been denied access to the country, amid a deadly crackdown on minority Rohingya Muslims there .

UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee had been due to visit the Southeast Asian country in January in an effort to assess the human rights situation there, including widespread abuses against the Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine State.

The Myanmarese government, however, blocked her visit and told her that it would not cooperate with her or grant her access to the country for the rest of her tenure, she said in a statement on Wednesday.

She suggested that that was a sign Myanmar had something “terribly awful” to hide in Rakhine.

“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,” she added.

Lee visited Myanmar back in January this year but was denied access to some areas in Rakhine. Citing “security concerns,” the government only allowed her to speak to individuals who were preapproved by it in Rohingya villages. During her 12-day visit to Myanmar, she spent three days in Rakhine.

The government released a statement later that month, saying it would refuse entry to members of a UN investigation team focusing on the situation of the Rohingya people.

Backed by the government and Buddhist mobs, the military launched a heavy-handed crackdown against the Muslim minority in Rakhine State late last year. That crackdown intensified in August.

Over the past three months, government troops, apart from raping, have been committing killings, making arbitrary arrests, and carrying out mass arson attacks to destroy houses in predominantly-Rohingya villages in Rakhine.

Only in a period of one month since August 25, the crackdown, called by the UN an “ethnic cleansing campaign,” killed some 6,700 Rohingya Muslims, including more than 700 children, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Almost 870,000 Rohingya Muslims have so far been forced to flee to Bangladesh. About 660,000 of them after August 25.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Monday that those behind the horrific crimes against the minority group should be brought to justice. He did not rule out the possibility that Myanmar’s leader and military face genocide charges in court in the future.

Source: Press TV


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