Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's security adviser told diplomats on Tuesday that a U.N. mission looking into allegations of rape, torture and killings of Rohingya Muslims would only "aggravate" troubles in the western state of Rakhine. Myanmar has declined to grant visas to three experts appointed by the United Nations in May to look into allegations of abuses against the powerful armed forces. Last week, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Nikki Haley, called on Myanmar to accept the mission, which was mandated in a Human Rights Council resolution.
"We dissociated ourselves from the decision because we found that it was less than constructive," said National Security Adviser Thaung Tun, speaking to U.N. officials and diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel. The decision of other countries - including China and India - to join Myanmar in distancing themselves from the resolution was a "principled stand", Thaung Tun said. "We feel that that mission can only aggravate the situation on the ground," he said.
Myanmar has long faced international condemnation for its persecution of the country's Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state. Fresh violence erupted in Rakhine last October after nine border police were killed. The military operation sent an estimated 75,000 people across the nearby border to Bangladesh, where many gave accounts of abuses. A United Nations report issued earlier this year said Myanmar's security forces had committed mass killings and gang rapes against Rohingya during their campaign against the insurgents, which may amount to crimes against humanity.
The European Union proposed the investigation after the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the army's operation in the northern part of Rakhine State - where most people are Rohingyas - likely included crimes against humanity. Rohingya women told reporters of husbands and sons arbitrarily detained, and of killings and arson by security forces that broadly match the accounts from refugees in Bangladesh. Myanmar has largely denied the accusations, and says most are fabricated. 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.