Myanmar expels UN envoy 

Myanmar has banned the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights, Yanghee Lee, investigating the crackdown in Rakhine State, claiming an earlier report by her was biased and unfair. 

Lee was informed that her access to the country was being denied and cooperation withdrawn.

The South Korean academic said she was told the decision was based on a statement she made after her last visit in July, when she denounced the government’s rights record and its treatment of the Rohingya.

“I am puzzled and disappointed by this decision by the Myanmar government,” she said. “This declaration of non-cooperation with my mandate can only be viewed as a strong indication that there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine, as well as in the rest of the country.”

Nay Pyi Taw spokesman Zaw Htay told the media that Lee “is not impartial and objective when conducting her work, there is no trust in her”.

Amnesty International called the ban “outrageous”.

“It is a further indication that authorities will do anything they can to avoid international scrutiny of their human rights record,” said James Gomez of the rights group.

The ban came after the Burmese media reported that a grave with 10 bodies had been found at Inn Din, north of the Rakhine capital, Sittwe. Photos released by the armed forces showed a grave being exhumed and multiple bodies.

The army said an investigation would be carried out, according to the pro-military Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

AFP and Irrawaddy reported that the killings could have happened up to a year ago and the bodies had not been identified.

More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed the Bangladesh border since renewed violence broke out in late August. Both the UN and US have called the violence ethnic cleansing with other agencies using the word genocide.

Médecins Sans Frontières reported that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in attacks during the first month after the crackdown began on August 25.

“They don’t want anybody to come in, either because they really are trying to hide something or I’m not sure, because they say one thing, that there’s nothing to hide, but then they deny access,” Lee told the media.

The recent arrest of two Reuters journalists has added fuel to allegations that the government is hiding serious crimes.

 

Rohingya refugees in Kutapalong camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Picture credit: Flickr