UN rights envoy to inspect reports of abuse in Myanmar
by Compiled from Wire Services
ISTANBULJan 10, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Compiled from Wire Services
Jan 10, 2017 12:00 am
U.N. human rights envoy Yanghee Lee arrived in Myanmar on Sunday for a 12-day visit amid growing concern about reports of abuse of members of the Rohingya Muslim minority in a government security crackdown.
Attackers killed nine police officers on Oct. 9 in a coordinated assault on posts near Myanmar's border with Bangladesh. Authorities say members of the Rohingya minority carried out the attacks and launched a security sweep. Since then, at least 86 people have been killed and the United Nations says about 34,000 civilians have fled across the border to Bangladesh.
Residents and refugees accuse the military of killing, raping and arbitrarily detaining civilians while burning villages in northwestern Rakhine State.
The government led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi denies the accusations and insists a lawful counter-insurgency operation is underway.
"The events of the last few months have shown that the international community must remain vigilant in monitoring the human rights situation," in Myanmar, Lee, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said in the statement.
Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner and champion of democracy in then military-ruled Myanmar, came to power in April after a landslide election win, installing her confidant, Htin Kyaw, as president.
However, increasing violence in border regions has raised questions about Suu Kyi's commitment to human rights and ability to rein in the military, which retains a major political role.
The government has restricted aid to northern Rakhine State and prevented independent journalists from visiting.
Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, have raised concern over the Rakhine crisis, which security officials believe is attracting the attention of international militant groups.
Presidential spokesman Zaw Htay said the government would provide Lee with security to visit conflict areas. Zaw Htay also said a Myanmar government delegation would visit Bangladesh on Jan. 11-13 to discuss the situation on the border.
The neighbors' relations have been tested by the stream of new refugees entering Bangladesh and by reports that Myanmar's navy has shot at Bangladeshi fishermen.
In Myanmar, Rohingyas face fundamental rights abuses. Myanmar's nationality law, approved in 1982, denies Rohingya citizenship. According to the law, foreigners cannot become naturalized citizens of Myanmar unless they can prove a close familial connection to the country.
Rohingyas are not recognized among the 134 official ethnicities in Myanmar because authorities see them as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. They are subjected to forced labor, have no land rights and are heavily restricted by the government. They have no permission to leave the camps built for them, have no source of income and have to rely on the World Food Program to survive.
The Rohingyas are a Muslim ethnic group living mainly in Myanmar. Rohingyas are thought to be descended from Muslim traders who settled there more than 1,000 years ago. As of 2016, approximately 1.3 million Rohingyas live in Myanmar, and about 300,000 to 500,000 live in Bangladesh.
Reports of rapes and killings of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar has increased, although the government was insultingly dismissing the claims and making the situation worse, the U.N. human rights office said.