Parliament Rejects UN Envoy Statement

By Htet Naing Zaw 26 July 2017

NAYPYITAW — The Lower House unanimously agreed on Monday to an urgent motion objecting to the end-of-mission statement from UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee on July 21 after her recent visit to the country.

National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker for Einme Township, Daw Thandar, called for the motion because, “if the report, which will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in October, is biased, the decisions made that are based on this report could be wrong.”

“I don’t deny there are human rights violation issues in the country, but I wanted to highlight that the findings of Ms. Yanghee Lee are incomplete in regard to Rakhine State affairs,” said Daw Thandar, who is also a member of the parliamentary Citizens’ Fundamental Rights Committee.

Lee told a Yangon press conference on July 21 that she was “disappointed” as the new government had kept the old tactics of the previous government during her tour. She expressed dismay that her visit, which included Rakhine, Karen, and Shan states, was marked by many travel and time restrictions.

U Kyaw Tin, the deputy foreign minister, told lawmakers “Ms. Yanghee Lee’s statement lacked accuracy and was unfair,” concluding that she “did not follow the ethics of a special rapporteur.”

He cited the State Counselor’s Office announcement that said the envoy’s statement “contains many sweeping allegations and a number of factual errors.”

“The special rapporteur included unverified information and allegations in her report, but left out the explanations she heard from the [ministers and officials] regarding the allegations,” added Kyaw Tin.

Thirteen lawmakers, including two Union Solidarity and Development Party, one Arakan National Party, two Myanmar Army representatives, and NLD legislators echoed the government’s view.

Activist-turned-lawmaker U Pyone Cho urged the human rights envoy to “systematically study” the information and sources, and emphasized this was a critical time for the country.

He also rejected Lee’s claims that she had time restrictions for the trip, and said she was given the chance to collaborate with the government but instead had raised doubts among the international community over the government.

Military appointee Maj Myint Maung added, “Such a statement neglecting Myanmar’s efforts, and aiming to cause confusion among the UN and the international community is an intentional act.”

“We all must be united in order to protect our national interest, as there could be possible international pressure in the future,” he added.