Rohingya situation 'hardly improved': UN envoy
Human rights has worsened in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state following a four-month-long military crackdown, a UN representative said Friday.
“The general situation for the Rohingya has hardly improved since my last visit in January, and has become further complicated in the north of Rakhine,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, at the end of a 12-day information gathering visit.
“I continue to receive reports of violations allegedly committed by security forces during operations,” she said.
Security forces launched a four-month long operation in the troubled Rakhine state, where Muslims and Buddhists often engage in violence, after a militant group killed nine policemen in Maungdaw Township last October.
The government has said at least 106 people were killed during the operation but Rohingya groups have said approximately 400 Rohingya were killed.
During the operation which ended mid-April, aid groups and media were prevented from entering the region.
Lee said that after the operation, Rohingya were attacked by unknown assailants for applying for citizenship.
The Rohingya are denied citizenship by the Myanmar government, which asks them to register as Bengalis – suggesting they are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
The ethnic group, however, maintains it belongs to Myanmar and citizenship is their birthright.
- Fact-finding mission denied access
Likewise, some village administrators and other Muslims were attacked for working with the state authorities, she said.
“This leaves many Rohingya civilians terrified, and often caught between violence on both sides,” Lee said.
Government figures show 34 Rohingya civilians killed and 22 others kidnapped by militants since last October.
Lee said the government led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has denied her request to visit several places in eastern Shan state and southeastern Kayin state, so as to impede her investigation.
“I was just able to visit Lashio in Shan state and Hpa-An in Kayin state,” she said, adding, individuals who she interviewed continue to face intimidation, including being photographed and questioned before and after meetings.
Thousands of people were internally displaced in Shan state, as fighting intensified between government troops and ethnic armed groups, since the present government came into power last March.
Lee said the Rakhine community in Kayuk Pyu of Rakhine state – where the government is implementing the Special Economic Zone project -- is also facing land confiscation with little or no consultation or compensation.
The government has refused entry to a UN team probing allegations of killing, rape and torture by security forces against Rohingya during a four-month security operation in the Maungdaw area in northern part of Rakhine.
The fact-finding mission was established by the UN Human Rights Council after a UN report issued in February uncovered widespread human rights violations by security forces in Rakhine.
Lee urged the Myanmar government to allow the fact-finding mission to begin its investigation, and said she passed on the message to Suu Kyi during a recent meeting she had with her in the capital of Naypyidaw.