12:00 AM, December 22, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 22, 2017
What is Myanmar trying to hide?
The world must ask in a united voice
The Myanmar government’s decision to ban UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee from visiting the country to assess the state of human rights across Myanmar, including in Rakhine, is outrageous. Lee said, this “can only be viewed as a strong indication that there must be something” terrible “happening in Rakhine, as well as in the rest of the country.” And there is every reason for us to suspect the same also, particularly given Myanmar’s long record of denials and smokescreens on top of this decision.
It is worth recalling that it was Lee who had sounded the alarm-bells in January this year, at a news briefing in Yangon, which suggested that things were taking a turn for the worse in Myanmar. And that has proven correct, as evident by the mass exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar, following the brutal military crackdown by the Myanmar armed forces since late August. Moreover, it was Lee who had initially warned Myanmar that its increasingly defensive position in response to allegations of persistent human rights violations against Rohingyas made it “appear less and less credible.”
Unfortunately, despite all the evidence to the contrary that has come out against Myanmar’s claims of innocence since then, nothing seems to have changed. Including its refusal to be transparent with the rest of the world—further confirmed by its recent arrest of two journalists working for Reuters. And this, again, must lead us to question Myanmar’s sincerity when it comes to implementing the terms mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with Bangladesh; according to which, Myanmar is to ensure peaceful conditions for Rohingyas to return to.
This in particular now seems highly unrealistic. Why else would Myanmar authorities refuse entry to the UN envoy? The international community must unanimously demand an answer to this question and call for greater transparency from Myanmar.