Myanmar: Departing UN rights expert still hopeful for democratic transition

UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


An independent human rights expert said she has not given up hope for a democratic transition in Myanmar even though the country has yet to address “grave allegations” of international crimes, including possible genocide.

Yanghee Lee was speaking in Bangladesh on Thursday at the end of her last official visit to the region as the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar.

“I have lost my optimism”, she said. “How could I be optimistic with ongoing credible allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide having been committed in Myanmar, and with justice and accountability still not yet within reach?

“But I still hold out hope that the promised democratic transition will proceed, as it is not too late for the Government to change the course it is currently set to. The Myanmar Government must face up to its responsibilities, obligations and duties.”

Entry denied

Ms. Lee was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 and will deliver her final report in March.

Her mandate falls under what is known as the Council’s Special Procedures, an independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanism to address specific country situations or thematic issues.

Special Rapporteurs are not UN staff, serve in their own capacity, and are not paid for their work.

She had conducted biannual visits to Myanmar until being denied entry from December 2017 onwards.

As she was again barred from entering for her final visit, Ms. Lee travelled to Thailand and Bangladesh to gather information about the situation in Myanmar.

The end of her mission coincided with a decision by the UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ordering Myanmar to protect its Rohingya population from genocide.

More than 700,000 members of the mainly Muslim minority group fled Rakhine state in northern Myanmar nearly three years ago following a reported crackdown by the military, known as the Tatmadaw, in response to deadly attacks against police and security posts carried out by separatists known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

Ms. Lee has welcomed the ICJ decision.

Refugees want to return

During her final mission, the rights expert met with scores of refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, who spoke of the horrors they had suffered.

“I met with male survivors of sexual violence. They told me of the rape and gang rape that they endured at the hands of the Myanmar military and security forces in Rakhine”, said Ms. Lee. “I also met Rohingya Christians who told me they were persecuted by the Myanmar Government due to their religion.

“Refugees I spoke to were firm about their deep desire to return home. However, I was informed of ongoing violence, continuing restrictions on movement, forced imposition of National Verification Cards, and people being killed and injured by landmines in northern Rakhine. Conditions remain unsuitable for their return.”

Intensifying conflict between the separatist Arakan Army in Rakhine and national armed forces is having a devastating impact, she said, which has been worsened by Government restrictions that include internet shutdown and blocking aid in some townships.

“I am also very worried about both sides engaging in disturbing tactics including abductions and mass arrests, and how this is instilling fear in the civilian population”, she added.

Hopes for free and fair elections

Ms. Lee observed that while the Myanmar authorities have taken steps towards international justice and accountability in recent years, more action is still needed.

With elections slated for this year, she called on the Government to ensure the vote is peaceful, credible, free and fair, and that all people can participate in the process.

“Some people told me they are worried that polling may not be allowed in parts of Rakhine and Shan for security reasons”, she said.

“If that occurs, distrust towards the next government and community grievances and marginalization that already exist are only going to grow stronger, and this will further hamper efforts to move forward in the democratic transition and peace process”.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Talent is worldwide. Opportunity is not. How can we redistribute it?

As ride-hailing firms drive into the future, who is being left behind?

What if big-tech companies became non-profits?

Mobile technology saving lives: Changing healthcare systems with simple technological solutions

Entrepreneur India Convention 2016: Bringing together Entrepreneurs, Investors, Startups and SMEs

Recovering from COVID-19: these are the risks to anticipate now – before it’s too late

Empty stadiums and online streaming: how coronavirus is affecting the media industry

Change is happening – and young people are leading the way forward

Can one FTA and 110 lobby meetings make the dirty oil clean in Europe?

Killing of Egyptian peacekeeper in Mali ‘may constitute war crimes’ Guterres warns, urging ‘swift action’

Prisoner executions in Belarus ‘simply unacceptable’, says UN rights body

Indexation of family benefits, child tax credit and family tax credits: Commission takes Austria to Court for discrimination

Why the Fourth Industrial Revolution needs more arts graduates

Questions and answers: Commission proposes SURE, a new temporary instrument worth up to €100 billion to help protect jobs and people in work

Greece returns to markets at a high cost to taxpayers, after four years out in the cold

Judges urge Security Council to serve interests of all UN Member States

Artificial Intelligence: guidelines for military and non-military use

5 factors driving the Chinese lawtech boom

This is how we can save millions of people from extreme poverty after COVID-19

Listen to the future – how 26 youth-led organizations are supercharging the UN’s Global Goals

State of the Energy Union: Progress made on the clean energy transition and a basis for green recovery

New UN-Syrian Action Plan signals an ‘important day’ for child protection, says UN envoy

‘We all must step up’ collective action on disability inclusion – UN deputy chief

Environmental Implementation Review: Commission helps Member States to better apply EU environment rules to protect citizens and enhance their quality of life

Clamp down on illegal trade in pets, urge Public Health Committee MEPs

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

4 steps towards wiping out cervical cancer

European Commission: Does Apple, Starbucks and Fiat really pay their taxes?

Consultant in Forensic Technology – 1969

Does the “climate change” require ombudsman services for environment?

Soil pollution ‘jeopardizing’ life on Earth, UN agency warns on World Day

The Brussels bureaucracy blocks the Youth Guarantee scheme

Groundbreaking cancer-fighting drugs now included in updated UN list of essential medicines

Parliament ready to fight for a different EU budget

China Unlimited and the Chinese dream

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

Are the G20 leaders ready to curb corporate tax-avoidance?

Make this the year of ‘transformative solutions’ to avert disastrous climate change: UN Deputy Chief

Migration: Better travel safe than sorry

3 strategies for Africa to thrive in this new era of globalization

Quantitative easing: how Mario can tackle low inflation in Eurozone

A 550 km-long mass of rotting seaweed is heading for Mexico’s pristine beaches

How AI is shaping financial services

From Grexit to Brexit: UK industry now says the in/out referendum is good for your health

It’s 100 years since US women got the right to vote, but how has gender equality changed?

The cost of housing is tearing our society apart

‘Champion for multilateralism’ readies to hand over UN General Assembly gavel

Climate change is a security threat. We must act now

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Metallo by Aurubis

Greece begins a new chapter following the conclusion of its stability support programme

EU: Centralised economic governance and bank supervision may lead to new crisis

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Europe’s children urge leaders to commit to climate action at UN Climate Summit in Paris

Almost all businesses expect to face a crisis. And how they deal with them really counts

UN chief commends Algerians for ‘mature and calm’ demonstrations for change, leading up to presidential resignation

Trump in London poisons UK and Europe

India: step up reform efforts to increase quality jobs and incomes

Why David Cameron’s large victory in UK elections will not pursue a ‘Brexit’

UK must end ‘unlawful’ administration of Chagos Archipelago ‘as rapidly as possible,’ top UN court rules

Latin America and Caribbean region deadliest for journalists in 2019

FROM THE FIELD: Enduring freezing winter in a war zone

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s