Myanmar (Burma) has banned a United Nations official investigating the ongoing clampdown in Rakhine State from the country, following a claim that a previous report by her was sentimental and unjust, the UN stated on Wednesday, December 20
Yanghee Lee, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, was told Wednesday that all entry to the country has been blocked and cooperation withdrawn for the duration of her tenure, the UN said in a statement.
“I am puzzled and disappointed by this decision by the Myanmar Government,” Lee said. “This declaration of non-cooperation with my mandate can 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.”
The ban came a day after Myanmar state media reported that a mass grave with 10 bodies inside had been found at Inn Din, north of Rakhine state capital Sittwe. Photos published by the military showed the grave being exhumed and multiple skeletal remains.
The army said “an investigation would be carried out,” according to the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed the Bangladeshi border from Rakhine State since renewed violence broke out in late August. Both the UN and the United States say the violence amounts to ethnic cleansing.
The Myanmar government says the bloodshed resulted from a military crackdown on militants who carried out co-ordinated attacks on border posts.
A recent Médecins Sans Frontières report said at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in attacks during the first month of the crackdown in Rakhine. In November, Myanmar’s military said that 376 “ARSA Bengali terrorists” were killed in fighting between August 25 and September 5, referring to the Rohingya insurgent group.
“The government has repeatedly denied violations of human rights are occurring throughout Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine State,” said Lee, who was due to visit the region in January.
“They have said that they have nothing to hide, but their lack of cooperation with my mandate and the fact-finding mission suggests otherwise.”
A Myanmar government spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment.
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