UN special rapporteur barred from visiting Myanmar

  • UN special rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee departs after a press conference in Yangon on January 20, 2017 during the conclusion of a 12-day mission to investigate escalating violence in Myanmar’s restive ethnic border areas. The government had denied UN human rights official Yanghee Lee access to violence-hit parts of Shan and Kachin states during her 12-day monitoring mission. / AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD

Myanmar has barred UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee from returning to Myanmar and announced that cooperation will be withdrawn during the duration of her tenure, The Irrawaddy Online reported on Wednesday (Dec 20) quoting a UN report.

Ms Lee was due to visit Myanmar in January to assess the state of human rights countrywide, including reports of abuses against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Ms Lee was reported to be puzzled and disappointed by the Myanmar government’s decision to ban her visit.

However, she said that the declaration of non-cooperation throughout her mandate could 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.”

But she hoped that Myanmar would review the decision.

U Zaw Htay, director of Myanmar President’s Office, said in a text message to The Irrawaddy that Ms Lee was not impartial nor objective in her work.

“There is no trust on her.  Therefore, we informed through Myanmar permanent mission in New York and OHCHR in Geneva,” he wrote in the text message.

The special rapporteur’s mandate requires two visits to Myanmar a year in order to report to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.  Since taking up the mandate in June 24, she has visited Myanmar six times.