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 Milestones

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

COVID-19 tracing apps: MEPs stress the need to preserve citizens’ privacy

Coronavirus: Commission launches data sharing platform for researchers

Mental health in times of a pandemic: what can each individual do to lessen the burden?

Can we put a price on clean air? Yes, we can

EU security and defence industry prepares positions for ‘producers’ and ‘customers’

Here’s how the EU is doing on gender equality

UN urges protection of indigenous peoples’ rights during migration

UN agencies welcome green light for Rohingya projects in northern Myanmar; urge ‘more effective access’

Combatting terrorism: EP special committee calls for closer EU cooperation

Italian elections: a long political limbo is ahead

The European Sting @ European Business Summit 2014 – the preview

The dangers of data: why the numbers never tell the full story

How climate change sparks innovation for fragile communities

Car rentals: EU action leads to clearer and more transparent pricing

How to build deforestation-free supply chains: lessons from Indonesia

Financing economic recovery, written by United Nations Under-Secretary-General

The Shifting Rhythms of Harmonious China: Ancient, Modern & Eternal

Alternative proteins will transform food, mitigate climate change and drive profits. Here’s how

Coronavirus: How worried should we be?

The online junk information grows, but so we shall

Somalia advancing towards ‘inclusive and peaceful future’ for women, deputy UN chief

We should look to nature for solutions to the global water crisis. Here’s why

Coronavirus: Commission boosts urgently needed research and innovation with additional €122 million

GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa on 16-18 July 2019, in association with The European Sting

Apple’s tax avoidance scheme remains as creative as their new iPhone

Polluted lungs: health in the center of environment discussion

A Sting Exclusive: “The Chinese economy is steady and moving in the right direction”, Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU underscores from Brussels

Mobile technology saving lives: changing healthcare with simple technology solutions

Social Committee slams the 28 EU leaders for false promises

Turning challenge into opportunity on the course to becoming the first climate-neutral continent

Main results of European Council of 18/10/2018

How artificial intelligence is redefining the role of manager

Local innovation, international impact: SMEs and the ITU Telecom World Awards

What makes a great CEO? The people they surround themselves with

Historian Niall Ferguson on what the pandemic means for the global economy, geopolitics – and parties

EU allocates over €22 million to help Palestinians in need

Digital business is Europe’s best hope to get back to growth

Mental Health of Health Professionals Facing COVID-19

How blockchain can cut the cost of new medicine

Trump asked Merkel to pay NATO arrears and cut down exports ignoring the EU

How digital can transform healthcare in Asia for millions of people

The Venezuelan exodus to Roraima and its repercussions

Criminals thrive on data abundance – here’s how we’ll catch them

Brexit kick-off: a historic day for the EU anticlockwise

UN food relief agency airlifts aid to DR Congo province hit by Ebola outbreak

EU Migrant Crisis: Italian Coast Guard Headquarters and Italian Navy to give host national opening addresses at Border Security 2016 in Rome

Paris is building the world’s greenest business district. What can other cities learn from it?

EU trade agreements: delivering new opportunities in time of global economic uncertainties

Women outliving men ‘everywhere’, new UN health agency statistics report shows

What universities can learn about citizenship in the COVID-19 pandemic

Libya: UN Mission condemns deadly attack against police in country’s south-east

Human rights: Chad, Haiti and Armenian prisoners of war in Azerbaijan

How COVID-19 accelerated the shift towards TradeTech

The key takeaways of G7 Summit in Canada

AI strawberries and blockchain chicken: how digital agriculture could rescue global food security

This is the hidden connection between smuggling and climate change

The secret to Bangladesh’s economic success? The Sheikh Hasina factor

EU steps up its strategy for connecting Europe and Asia

‘Alarmingly high’ number of children malnourished worldwide: UNICEF report

Being blinded by labels stops social change. Art helps us see a better future

More Stings?

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