Thursday, September 21, 2017

Protesters scoff at UN rights rapporteur in Sittwe

Protesters met UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee as she arrived at Sittwe Airport yesterday morning.

About 200 local Rakhine people took to the street near Sittwe airport, with banners decrying the presence of Lee who was visiting the state capital to meet with state government officials.

Daw Kyau Sein, who was among the protesters and a member of Rakhine Alindagar, told The Myanmar Times that they displayed their displeasure against the presence of the UN official as she arrived and left the airport.

“Her flight arrived about 9:45 am. We waited for her arrival to protest. As her convoy moved from the airport, we held our banners and shouted to express our dislike for her,” said she.

The Rakhine Alindagar organization informed the police department about the protest and they were allowed to demonstrate at the other places near Sittwe airport.

“We don’t like her because she is biased. Whenever she comes to Rakhine state, she writes report of human rights situation in favor of the illegal migrants from Bangladesh,” she said.

Despite having visited several times, Lee failed to come up with a credible report that reflects the situation in the state, Daw Kyau Sein said.

“Because of her reports, people outside Myanmar do not see the other side of the situation in Rakhine state,” she said.

The UN special rapporteur also visited the Buthedaung township Wednesday afternoon, where she faced similar protests by local residents, the Root Investigative Agency (RIA) reported.

The demonstrators shouted “Yanghee Lee Get Out”, “We don’t want the one who gives rights to the illegal Banglis”, “We don’t want Yanghee Lee who interferes with the Rakhine affairs” and “Try first to unite South and North Koreas,” RIA, a local-based news outlet, added.

She was also scheduled to visit Maungdaw, a town in northern Rakhine state where October 9 attacks on border guard forces by armed men occurred in 2016.

Currently, tens of thousands of Muslim who identify themselves as Rohingyas are living in internally displaced persons camps in towns around the state since communal violence erupted in 2012.

The special rapporteur’s visit will last until July 21, during which she is expected to visit Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states to observe human rights situation.

During her previous visits, she was denied access to Laiza and Hpakant in Kachin states where IDP camps exist. She visited Kyaukphyu township on Tuesday.

Based on her finding, she will present a report to the UN General Assembly to be held in October.

The Myanmar government said the UN special rapporteur’s visit must not be associated with the fact-finding mission formed by UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).