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UN expert to Suu Kyi: Feel the sufferings of Rohingyas

  • Published at 12:04 pm September 18th, 2019
File Photo: Distressed rohngya women and children at a camp in Cox Bazar Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Lee noted that satellite imagery showed the development of 34 camps, however, their precise purpose was unclear

A United Nations human rights expert has implored Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to "open her eyes" and "feel with her heart" the sufferings of the Rohingya refugees.

Yanghee Lee, the human rights Special Rapporteur, told the Human Rights Council that the situation in Myanmar was of extreme concern, and was not what she and others had hoped to see nearly four years after the election of National League for Democracy.

“I would like to ask the State Counselor if the Myanmar that exists today is what Suu Kyi had truly aspired to bring about, throughout the decades of her relentless fight for a free and democratic Myanmar? 

"I implore you, Madame State Counselor, to open your eyes, listen, feel with your heart, and please use your moral authority, before it gets too late,” Lee said

Despite international condemnation, Lee added that Myanmar had done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution against the Rohingyas, and that the Rohingyas who remain in Rakhine, live in the same dire circumstances that they experienced prior to the events of August 2017.

“They are denied citizenship and recognition, face regular violence (including in the context repatrof the ongoing conflict between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw), are unable to move freely and have little access to food, healthcare, education, livelihoods and services,” she said.

“Myanmar claims to have done what is necessary for the repatriation to be successful, and continues to blame Bangladesh for any kind of delay,” she said, adding, “However, the information I have leads me to believe that the contrary is true.”

Lee noted that satellite imagery showed the development of 34 camps, however, their precise purpose was unclear. She also said they might be intended to detain the remaining Rohingya population and those who decide to return.

She further said that the satellite imagery showed the extent of development in northern Rakhine, including six military bases that had been built on the site of destroyed Rohingya villages. Of 392 villages that were destroyed, there had been no attempt to reconstruct 320 of them, with 40% of villages being completely razed to the ground. 

“Some of that demolition occurred in 2018 and some even in 2019, and all of these are completely antithetical to the claim that Myanmar is ready to receive the refugees. In this situation, even if the refugees wish to go back, what have they got to return to?” questioned Lee, who is denied access to Myanmar.

“I believe that accountability is necessary for the country as a whole, as well as being key to successful repatriation. It will bring about an end to the military’s violence against ethnic minorities in Myanmar and the possibility that the Rohingya refugees can live safely in Rakhine,” she concluded.

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