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

State of Health in the EU: shift to prevention and primary care is the most important trend across countries

Canada leading the way on women’s inclusion and empowerment, says OECD

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Suicide Prevention: Using Graduation as a Transformative Tool

Joint press release: Republic of Korea – EU Leaders’ video conference meeting

This is Germany’s $45 billion, 18-year plan to move away from coal

COVID-19 underlines the importance of fintech in emerging markets

Virus Coronavirus: No time to die

Greece @ MWC14: Greek-born mobile champions at MWC 2014

The age of influence: why digital platforms must come clean about political ads

Continue ‘their mission’ urges UN chief, as the victims of the Baghdad bombing are remembered, 15 years on

Gaza: deadly violence continues to escalate, top UN officials work to restore calm

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

Mental health: fighting the hidden pandemic

MEPs back plans to promote water reuse for agricultural irrigation

I’m not feeling lucky: The “Right to Be Forgotten” ruling puts Google inside a box

Quality of Europe’s bathing waters remains high, latest annual assessment finds

Guterres calls for ‘maximum restraint’ following drone assault on key Saudi oil facility

These are the world’s safest cities

Building social good – lessons from an Asian giant

Coronavirus: Commission welcomes Parliament’s quick green light for proposed new resources to protect lives and livelihoods

Post the pandemic: keeping our worlds turning

The megatrend that will shape our working future

Robots aren’t stealing all our jobs, says the World Bank’s chief economist

5 lessons for the future of universities

New El Salvador law, a victory for forced displacement victims: UN refugee agency

Coronavirus: The truth against the myths

YOUTH WILL BE A KEY FOCUS IN THE NEXT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

‘Urgent need’ to stop Mali violence with ‘effective’ military response: UN expert

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum to open its door on 14th January, in association with The European Sting

The ethics of the Medical Technology Civilisation era

Here are five ways we can make mental healthcare better

Educational disadvantage starts from age 10

8 amazing facts to help you understand China today

12 ways the tech sector can help save the climate in 12 years

Four in 10 indigenous languages at risk of disappearing, warn UN human rights experts

State aid: Commission approves Luxembourg guarantee measure to further support economy in coronavirus outbreak

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of joint control over Prosegur Alarmas by Telefónica and Prosegur

We lack a global framework for saving our environment. Here’s how we change that

Aidex: the Global Humanitarian and Development Aid Event

Why the UN is investigating poverty in the United Kingdom

UN expresses concern following wave of street protests in Iraq and elsewhere

Is co-living an answer to the affordable housing crisis?

Here are three key ways that data analytics can improve the workplace

Don’t understand the US-China trade war? This metaphor could help

OECD’s Gurría calls for overhaul of economic thinking to address global challenges

UN’s AIDS agency ‘greatly encouraged’ by latest scientific breakthrough showing cure is possible

US prosecutors now target Volkswagen’s top management, upsetting Germany

UN should be ‘exemplary’ in defending judicial independence, top Judge tells Security Council

Climate change is a security threat. We must act now

Future of our planet hinges on action by today’s youth – UN deputy chief

UN agency warns conditions around Yemen’s key port city of Hudaydah still ‘very bad’, as staff rush to deliver aid

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Coronavirus: Commission Statement on consulting Member States on proposal to further expand State aid Temporary Framework to recapitalisation measures

MEPs want to fund crucial areas to stimulate European growth

It’s time for global businesses to accept local responsibility

Turkey remains numb while its economy is expected to shrink further due to a cocktail of EU and US sanctions

This afternoon Britain will be once more isolated from mainland Europe

EU and India re-open talks over strategic partnership while prepare for a Free Trade Agreement

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