UN fact-finding mission demands 'full and unfettered' access to Myanmar to probe refugee crisis

UN human rights investigators said they needed 'full and unfettered' access to Myanmar to investigate a grave and ongoing refugee crisis

AFP September 19, 2017 14:41:43 IST
UN fact-finding mission demands 'full and unfettered' access to Myanmar to probe refugee crisis

Geneva: United Nations human rights investigators on Tuesday said they needed "full and unfettered" access to Myanmar to investigate a grave and ongoing crisis, but the government renewed its rejection of the probe.

"It is important for us to see with our own eyes the sites of these alleged violations", the head of UN-backed fact-finding mission, Marzuki Darusman, told the Human Rights Council, asking for "full and unfettered access to the country."

"There is a grave humanitarian crisis underway that requires urgent attention", he added.

UN factfinding mission demands full and unfettered access to Myanmar to probe refugee crisis

File image of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh waiting for humanitarian aid. Reuters

The council set up the mission in March to investigate possible violations across Myanmar, with a particular focus on alleged crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly denounced the UN probe as unhelpful and vowed that her government would not cooperate with it.

Suu Kyi earlier Tuesday delivered a nationally televised address on the Rohingya crisis, appealing for outside observers to visit Myanmar and see the situation for themselves, in a speech aimed at appeasing an international community horrified by the army-led violence in Rakhine.

But hours after that speech, Myanmar's UN ambassador Htin Lynn re-asserted his government’s "position of disassociating herself from the resolution" that set up the fact-finding mission.

"We continue to believe that instituting such a mission is not a helpful course of action in solving the already-intricated Rakhine issue", he told the council.

Darusman had upped the pressure on Myanmar to grant access, arguing it was "in the government’s interest and in the interests of the people of Myanmar to communicate their views and evidence directly to the (UN) mission."

He added that the probe "had urgently dispatched a team to Bangladesh", where more than 4,00,000 Rohingya have fled army operations in recent weeks.

The UN investigator, an Indonesian national and veteran of past UN investigations including a ground-breaking report on slave labour in North Korea, warned that Myanmar had the "danger signs" of a crisis that could worsen.

He noted reports that some in majority Buddhist Myanmar had spread propaganda that "compared the Rohingya to pests".

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