By Fatih Erel
GENEVA (AA): The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar on Tuesday warned about possible reprisals against people she met during her recent visit to the country.
“There is one word that has hung heavily on my mind during this visit — reprisals,” Yanghee Lee said in a statement following her 12-day trip.
“I am deeply concerned about those with whom I met and spoke, those critical of the government, those defending and advocating for the rights of others and those who expressed their thoughts and opinions which did not conform to the narrative of those in the position of power.”
She said she was particularly worried about the resumption of security operations and reports of arbitrary arrests in villages she visited in Maungdaw, a district in Rakhine state bordering Bangladesh that is home to the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
Lee said the situation was deteriorating in the northern state of Kachin, where ethnic rebels are fighting government troops. “Those in Kachin state tell me that the situation is now worse than at any point in the past few years,” she said.
“Whilst I was not able to travel to the areas most severely affected, the situation is now such that even in Myitkyina, the capital of the state and home to over 300,000 people, residents are afraid — and now stay home after dark.”
Lee is due to present a report to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
[Photo: UN special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee attends a press conference in Yangon, Myanmar on January 20, 2017. Photographer: Aung Naing Soe/AA]