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A member of the Lower House of Parliament has submitted an urgent proposal to denounce the findings of Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma. The proposal was approved for further discussion by Lower House Speaker Win Myint.
Lee concluded a 12-day visit to Rangoon and Naypyidaw, as well as Shan, Karen and Arakan states, on 21 July. In her findings, she listed a catalogue of concerns based on reports of killings, torture, the use of human shields by security forces, deaths in custody, and humanitarian crises affecting the Rohingya and other minority communities.
The special rapporteur also accused the Burmese government of limiting her access to areas with ongoing human rights abuses, including Hsipaw, Shan State, where three journalists are imprisoned.
She also accused Burma’s current government of employing the same tactics of oppression and silencing dissent as the military junta that previously ruled the country.
Responding to these accusations, MP Thandar from Einme Township, Irrawaddy Division, said the special rapporteur’s findings ignored the Burmese government’s efforts to promote national reconciliation and to cooperate with the UN.
She also accused Lee of ignoring the facts on the ground in Arakan State.
“[Lee’s] statement was not based on fact,” Thandar said. “Yanghee Lee paid no attention to terrorist attacks on civilians in Rakhine [Arakan] State. There is growing concern among the public about the attacks, which could make Myanmar into a stronghold for the terrorists.”
She also accused Lee of neglecting to mention tunnels, guns, and training camps discovered by Burmese authorities in the Mayu Mountains.
“The report the special rapporteur plans to submit to the UN General Assembly in October will be unfair. It will lead to bad decisions. That’s why I submitted the proposal,” the MP said.
Thandar’s proposal was supported by several other lawmakers, including members of the NLD, USDP, the Arakan National Party and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.
NLD MP Kyaw Soe Linn from Pyi Gyi Tagun Township, Mandalay Division, said Lee ignored Burma’s appointment of Kofi Annan, a former secretary general of the UN, as chairman of the Rakhine State Advisory Commission.
“[This appointment] is a noteworthy sign that the government cares about human rights affairs in the country,” Kyaw Soe Linn said.
He also said the special rapporteur’s statement largely ignored the government’s challenges, including dealing with years of isolation, underdevelopment and internal conflict.
Lower House Speaker Win Myint approved the proposal for further discussion and invited MPs to sign up to participate.
On 21 July, the Office of the State Counsellor issued a similar response to Lee’s findings, saying: “We are disappointed with the Special Rapporteur’s end of mission statement. We had hoped that the Special Rapporteur’s statement would reflect the difficulties of resolving the problems that are the legacy of decades of internal conflict, isolation, and underdevelopment. The Special Rapporteur’s statement instead contains many sweeping allegations and a number of factual errors.”
This story was originally published by Coconuts Yangon here.