Ethnic Rakhine party snubs UN envoy probing abuse

Arakan National Party refuses to meet UN envoy probing reports of abuse against Rohingya Muslims under military crackdown

Ethnic Rakhine party snubs UN envoy probing abuse

World Bulletin / News Desk

A powerful ethnic party in Myanmar has again rejected a request for a meeting from a top United Nations official who is visiting troubled Rakhine State to probe reports of rights violations against Rohingya Muslims.

Northern Rahkine has been under strict military lockdown since Oct. 9 when a gang killed nine border police officials near the border with Bangladesh, leading to a clampdown that has left anywhere between 84 and 400 Rohingya dead.

An Arakan National Party (ANP) official confirmed Saturday that they refused a request from Yanghee Lee, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, to meet with party leaders Friday evening, hours after she arrived in the state capital Sittwe.

“We are not meeting her because we don’t believe she and her organization [the UN] have a will to resolve the issues fairly,” ANP joint secretary Ba Swe told Anadolu Agency by phone.

“The issues will never be solved as long as they accept these Bengalis as members of this country’s ethnic groups,” Ba Swe said, using a term that suggests Rohingya are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

As part of her 12-day visit to Myanmar, Lee will spend three days in Rakhine -- home to around 1.2 million stateless Rohingya, a minority that has suffered decades of poverty and repression and been denied basic rights such as citizenship and freedom of movement.

On Friday, she met Muslim community leaders during her visit to a Rohingya neighborhood in Sittwe.

Rakhine regional government spokesman Tin Maung Swe said Lee arrived Saturday in northern Maungdaw Township, a conflict-torn area near the country’s western border with Bangladesh.

He told Anadolu Agency that the regional government and military are helping her travel to almost all the villages she requested.

“However she will not able to visit some villages due to security concerns,” he said.

Since Oct. 9, aid agencies and independent journalists have been denied access to majority Rohingya areas, and at least 101 people -- 17 police and soldiers, eight Muslim men working closely with the local authority, and 76 alleged "attackers" (including six who reportedly died during interrogation) -- were killed and more than 600 people detained for alleged involvement.

Rohingya advocacy groups, however, claim around 400 Rohingya -- described by the UN as among the most persecuted groups worldwide -- were killed in the military operations, women were raped and more than 1,000 Rohingya villages torched.

A law passed in Myanmar in 1982 denies Rohingya -- many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations -- citizenship, making them stateless.

The law denies Rohingya rights to Myanmar nationality, removes their freedom of movement, access to education and services, and allows arbitrary confiscation of property.

Rohingya have fled Myanmar in droves for decades, with a new wave of migrations occurring since mid-2012 after communal violence broke out.

Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2017, 14:19
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