New UN Rights Rapporteur Meets With Rohingya, Arakan Leaders

A family of Rohingya Muslims at a camp for internally displaced persons in Arakan State. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

A family of Rohingya Muslims at a camp for internally displaced persons in Arakan State. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Yanghee Lee, the new UN rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, visited the Arakan State capital Sittwe and has met with leaders of the Arakanese Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities in the troubled region, local sources said.

“She only told us that she wanted to hear about our concerns regarding the situation,” said Than Thun, a leader from an Arakanese NGO who participated in Sunday’s meeting with Yanghee Lee.

“Our community leaders gave her a letter to explain why we have conflict in our region between our Rakhines [Arakanese] and the Bengalis. The letter is explains the history of the conflict and the current situation,” he said, while referring to the Muslim minority as ‘Bengalis’ to suggest that they are immigrants from Bangladesh.

Than Thun said it was too early to determine what the Arakanese leaders thought of the new rights rapporteur, adding, “She will have a press conference at the end of her trip. Let’s see what she will say and then we could know what type of person she is.”

South Korea’s Yanghee Lee is making her first visit to Burma as a rapporteur and succeeds Argentina’s Tomás Ojea Quintana. He wrote numerous reports on the crisis in Arakan State and warned that the stateless Rohingya minority were facing persecution and a range of serious rights violations at the hands of the authorities and the Arakanese community.

The government, Arakanese authorities and Buddhist community leaders dismissed his reports as biased.

The new rapporteur announced last week that she would be visiting Naypyidaw, Rangoon, Mandalay and Arakan and Kachin states from 17-26 July to gather first-hand information on the rights situation in Burma.

She said she planned tohave “frank and open exchange of views” during meetings with government officials, political, religious and community leaders, NGO representatives, as well as victims of human rights violations and members of the international community.

State-run media reported that the new rapporteur met with the Burma Human Right Commission last week and several prisoners held in Rangoon’s Insein Prison for political reasons, before heading off to Arakan State.

Aung Win, a Rohingya rights activist living in Sittwe’s Muslim quarter Aung Mingalar, said he and other Rohingya leaders met with Yanghee Lee on Sunday, adding that the rapporteur visited Aung Mingalar and a camp for displaced Rohingya, as well as two camps for displaced Arakanese.

“I told her about how our children could not go to [Sittwe] university. I said everyone has the right to education, according to the UN, but our children cannot get it,” he said.

“One of our leaders told her that we need to have a program to be resettled [in former homes], while another said we needs rights under the 1982 Citizenship Law,” Aung Win said, referring to a Burmese law that has rendered the Muslim minority stateless.

Aung Win said leaders also complained about the lack of medical care in the Rohingya camps. “There is no 24 hour-service. They only provide 2 hours a day of medical treatment through a mobile clinic that visits the camps. So, we told her we have lost our rights [to access to care].”

Roughly 140,000 Rohingya displaced by the outbreak of deadly inter-communal violence have been living in squalid, crowded camps since 2012. Authorities prevent them from leaving the camp and are limiting humanitarian aid and basic government services such as health care, education and food, for the displaced.

Aung Mingalar is considered a ghetto as authorities are preventing its approximately 6,000 Muslim residents from leaving the area in central Sittwe, and families inside lack access to basic services.

Since the outbreak of violence in 2012, tensions have remained high and the government has come no closer to resolving the conflict. International aid groups’ access to needy Muslim communities has been restricted in recent months, and the government blocked two major medical charities helping the Rohingya from operating in the state.

6 Responses to New UN Rights Rapporteur Meets With Rohingya, Arakan Leaders

  1. We want to know why the photos of one community is shown if it was mentioned that the responsible person is visiting to meet two communities. And secondly, when the government of Myanmar had declared officially that there is no Rohingers in Burma, why the term Rohingers is used. Does it mean that there is no government in Myanmar? We do not want any person who is impartial and listen to one side as before.

  2. Authorities are bias, they put religious as front face and they do not care Muslims in general. As such situation of Arakan to day, therefore U Hal saw an executive member of Arakan National Development party openly said that there is hard liner from USDP party and some of Arakanese Buddhists personals are involved creating Arakan Violence.

    UN rapporteur must study her previous UN rapporteur reports on Arakan and herself to see the present situation of IDPs in the camps are real human living place or not. When shall they have to go back their own home. 1982 citizenship law is undemocratic and not meet the international standard, so this law should be terminated as soon. When a law is bias to the peoples of same soil, that law is invalid ( not suitable ) to apply. In Sittwe whether all Arakanese Buddhists are qualified citizen or not to be scrutinize because most of the Buddhists population in Sittwe, Rthaydaung and Ponnakyunt and other townships Buddhist majority peoples belong to Awakyunt of Bangladesh. Just because they are Buddhists in faith they become day and night citizen of Burma. That is not law, law should not be bias and one sided. Rule of Law must prevail in Arakan region.

  3. Dear Mr. NN,

    The word Rohingya is in Arakan History clearly mentioned at ancient time and also during the era of Bama leadership Thakhin Nu ( U Nu ) then the first Prime Minister of Burma ( Myanmar ) and also Bama military leader Brig. General Aung Gyi, then Vice Chief of Staff of all arm forces, declared that this in May Yu region settled peoples are called from that day onward ” Rohingya “. I think you need to study past, present and latest situation of Arakan. The word Rohingya was written and mentioned Burma Army leaflet at the time of Frontier Administration of Col. Saw Myint, at that time why General Ne Win accepted, why he changed his mind when Arakanese leader U Hla Tun Pyu
    initiated time to introduce 1982 citizenship law? It is very strange. That show ” Bama Lu-myo-gyi wada “.

    Previous Bama government had already recognized Rohingya, then now also Bama military back government is reluctant to even use the word Rohingya is not fair enough.

    • The word Rohingya (if it is in Rakhine history) must mean the Rakhine or Arakanese as named by the British. It has nothing to do with the illegal Bengali intruders called as Kalas, who claim as Rohingya to hoodwink the world for making their mean underhand tricks a success.

  4. If I agree everything with Oo Hla Saw, I will definitely be a hypocrite. But I agree some points from his interview attached below. Oo Hla Saw , CEC of ANP has realised that Rakhine State is being used by capable masterminds to give irreversible lessons to both communities and keeping Rakhine State in chaos forever. The benefit of doing this may be 1. Milking all the resources without any hindrance, 2. Sparing from any military casualties and operations like what happening in other ethnic states. This is exactly like a slave fights during Greek and Roman empires.
    Oh Rakhine people of Rakhine state, you need to realise that you have been also the victims of persecution and human rights violations for decades. Please do not hit other victims, albeit different format. You ( Rakines ) may be seen apparently upper hand that the other ( Rohingyas) are lower hand but at the end of the day victims are victims. Hitting the wrong targets ( Bengali/Rohingya/Muslims whatever you want to call) and make Rakhine state burnt, will only result in similitude of ‘ethno-racial suicide’ in a long run.
    Please make use of the bitter lesson from the last 2-3 years and try to find the ways to make Rakhine state developed, prosperous and peaceful, harmonious.
    ‘There Must be a Mastermind Behind the Conflict’
    [I want to stress that if we are easily swayed by others, like we are now, and if we commit anarchic acts, we, Arakanese people, will remain slaves for long in the future…..OO Hla Saw CEO, ANP]
    [……., there must be people who want to fish in troubled waters by instigating violence and riots in Arakan State. Among them may be retired military personnel or authorities as well as some Arakanese people… OO Hla Saw, CEO of ANP]

  5. If I am Bengali
    I will proudly Say I am Bengali
    If Indian……
    I will proudly say I am Indian…..
    I know a Lady
    I asked Are you Arakanese?
    She Proudly Said I am Bengali
    U Nu legally elected Prime Minister
    of Burma……
    “Born In Burma!”
    “Citizen of Burma!”
    Who / Why are The Illegal Defrock Soldiers Parliamentarian
    Quacking About……

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