Lee voices concern over safety of those who spoke with her


January 20, 2017

UN human rights rapporteur Yanghee Lee expressed concerns regarding the safety of Rohingyas who had met with her to give accounts of atrocities committed by security forces in October and November last year.

There is one word that has hung heavily on my mind during this visit – reprisals,” said Lee, “in every one of my visits and in every one of my meetings, I ask the Government of Myanmar to ensure that the people I speak to and even work with, do not suffer reprisals for speaking out on rights issues or expressing their opinions.”

Lee also directly referred to the case of Shuna Miah who was beheaded in Nga Khura after speaking to Burmese journalists in late December. “I recall during my preparations before arriving, the news broke of a man having been beheaded – his only crime was apparently to have an opinion and to voice that opinion out loud. In fact, we still do not know the full circumstances leading to that man being beheaded. But the message is clear. Do not express yourself,” she said.

She acknowledged the desperation of the Rohingyas risking their lives to let the world know of their plight saying, “knowing that by talking to directly affected community members, I could in fact place them and their family’s lives at risk. Yet even more distressing is that many of those I speak to tell me they are willing to take the risk – they see speaking out as their only hope for change and want desperately for the rest of the world to be aware of the situation that they are in.”She however said that the security forces did not prevent her access to the Rohingya villages.

Lee was speaking at the conclusion of her visit to Myanmar.

She also spoke in length about unlawful detentions and the heavy handed reprisals of security forces and criticised the blatant lies perpetuated by the government propaganda vehicle. The envoy also spoke about human rights abuses in Kachin state and the northern borders.

The full report can be accessed here: http://yangon.sites.unicnetwork.org/2017/01/20/end-of-mission-statement-by-special-rapporteur-on-the-situation-of-human-rights-in-myanmar/