Myanmar ‘May be Trying to Expel’ All Rohingya: UN


Rohingya refugees

Fatih Erel

GENEVA (AA): The UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee Monday called for “prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations” into the killings and other serious human rights violations in Myanmar while “the government may be trying to expel Rohingya population.”

“No stones must be left unturned. The alleged victims, as well as all the people of Myanmar deserve to know the truth,” Lee said during the presentation of her third report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

“The government may be trying to expel the Rohingya population from the country altogether. I sincerely hope that that is not the case,” Lee said.

Lee called for a Commission of Inquiry into events in Rakhine State, where allegations of serious human rights violations allegedly committed by the armed forces have been surfacing “increasingly and persistently.”

“I heard allegation after allegation of horrific events like these – slitting of throats, indiscriminate shootings, setting alight houses with people tied up inside and the throwing of very young children into the fire, as well as gang rapes and other sexual violence,” Lee said, referring to her visit to Bangladesh last month to meet individuals who had fled Rakhine state.

Lee said she continued to receive reports of serious violations committed by all parties to the conflict, including torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, sexual- and gender-based violence, arbitrary killings, and abductions; adding that, “many of these violations have also gone uninvestigated, with the situation in these areas worsening and still receiving little attention.”

Highlighting the reports that over 10,000 people were displaced last week from Kokang Self-Administered Zone, Lee said “I am extremely concerned by the escalation of conflict in Kachin and Shan States which is having a dramatic impact on civilians in these areas.”

The United Nations and other international organizations have been systematically denied authorization to deliver vital and, in some cases, lifesaving assistance to over 40,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) since May 2016, Lee said.

A number of attacks on police stations rocked the Rakhine State on Oct. 9, 2016, triggering a draconian law enforcement response that caused the deaths of dozens and led to tens of thousands of people fleeing the country in fear.

Rohingya advocacy groups claim that not dozens but hundreds of Rohingya — described by the UN as among the most persecuted groups worldwide — were killed in the military operations in an area which has been closed to aid agencies and independent journalists.

The Myanmar government has been accused of being unwilling to open the area to international observers, leaving at least two separate UN agencies without access.

In December 2016, UN Secretary-General’s Myanmar Adviser Vijay Nambiar warned the ongoing violence in the country’s west is in danger of “getting out of hand”, and asked State Counselor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to be more assertive in resolving historic problems faced by the area’s Muslim and Buddhist communities.


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