UN envoy banned from meeting Rohingya Muslims
The visiting UN special rapporteur on Myanmar has been barred from meeting the country’s long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims.
Yanghee Lee was visiting the Southeast Asian nation to assess its human rights situation ahead Myanmar’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for November 8.
She complained on Friday of serious disruptions marring the trip, including the authorities’ preventing her from visiting the Rakhine state, where the Rohingyas live.
“I am also disappointed that requested meetings and visits were not granted or suddenly changed or cancelled at the last minute without prior notice,” the official noted and said, “This unfortunately hampers my ability to fulfill my mandate.”
Lee noted that the Muslims have been told they cannot vote in the polls. “This is an issue that must be seen against the backdrop of institutionalized discrimination against the Muslim population in Rakhine.”
The visit was Lee’s third trip to Myanmar since being appointed to the position by the United Nations.
During her last visit in January, comments about the persecution of the Rohingyas occasioned a stinging response from the government, which accused her of bias and infringing on state sovereignty.
Rohingya Muslims account for about five percent of Myanmar’s population of nearly 60 million.
The Myanmar government has been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslims.
According to the UN, the Rohingyas are one of the world’s most persecuted communities.
Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims have been killed and wounded in months of increased sectarian violence in Myanmar. Thousands of others have been forced to flee their homes.