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UN rights expert: Situation in Myanmar not conducive for Rohingya repatriation

  • Published at 01:17 am July 9th, 2018
  • Last updated at 01:23 am July 9th, 2018
Yanghee Lee
Yanghee Lee Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Professor Yanghee Lee was addressing a press conference at a hotel in Dhaka on Sunday afternoon, about the situation of human rights in Myanmar

The United Nations Special Rapporteur Professor Yanghee Lee has said conditions in Myanmar are not conducive to return for Rohingyas.

She was addressing a press conference at a hotel in Dhaka on Sunday afternoon, about the situation of human rights in Myanmar. She said it would be a long term process to repatriate Rohingya refugees.

“As it is clear the government of Myanmar has made no progress or shown any real will to dismantle the system of discrimination in the country’s laws, policies and practices and to make northern Rakhine state safe, the Rohingya refugees will not be returning in the near future.” Prof Lee said.

Mentioning of getting no help from the Myanmar side, she said the Myanmar government has not allowed her to visit Myanmar to carry out her assignment mandated by the Human Rights Council.

“I have had the opportunity to have teleconferences with various individuals and groups in Myanmar,” she further added, stating, she was alarmed by what she was told about the developments, affecting the human rights of those in Myanmar, by all the people she spoke to on this trip.

Prof Lee said “It was reported to me that the democratic space in Myanmar continues to sharply deteriorate. Repressive laws and unlawful laws continue to be used to suppress the legitimate exercise of the rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association.”

“Overwhelmingly the message I received after talking to everyone is ‘enough is enough’, and the reprehensible situation that exists for the people of Myanmar today must end,” Prof Lee claimed.

About the Rohingya people’s citizenship, the UN Special Rapporteur said, “When we speak of the future of the Rohingyas’ citizenship, we must speak of its restoration by Myanmar and not use vague terminology such as a ‘pathway to citizenship’.”

Prof Lee also said she spoke to some refugees who arrived in Cox’s Bazar in recent days, while the Rohingya refugees told her about the situation in northern Rakhine, which is far from stable or safe, and systematic violence targeted against the remaining Rohingya population continues.

Prof Less said: “These refugees told me that Myanmar security forces had entered their villages and told them that they must accept the National Verification Card (NVC)  or leave.”

NVC is a form of documentation that does not provide citizenship rights to the Rohingyas.

Several of the women with whom Lee spoke, have informed her that the security forces searched for their husbands, who had been staying out of their houses in fear, said Prof Lee adding: “The women said they had then been raped when their husbands were not found.”

Prof Lee said: “I was horrified to be told by one woman that her 12 year old son had been chopped to pieces after he visited the family’s fish hatchery, the family had also been told by the security forces that they could not go there unless they accept the NVC,” said Lee adding, “Such brutality, and to a child, is deplorable.”

She further said, “Talks about repatriation is extremely premature. I am astonished by the lack of any meaningful progress regarding creating conditions in Myanmar for the return of Refugee from other countries.

She added: “The situation of the Rohingya is Cox’s Bazar is extremely precarious and should continue to get urgent attention from the international community.”

“The Joint Response Plan (JSP) is only 26% and donors should step up and provide the funding which is urgently needed for medium and long term planning,” she continued.

While ending her speech Prof Lee said:“There are three things which are urgently needed to ensure the future of Rohingya refugee community: education for all; access to meaningful livelihood opportunities and vocational training for men and women; and the ability for the Rohingya to live a dignified life, is what defines freedom of movement.”