Secretary-General Voices Concern Over Reported Myanmar Security Excesses, Urges Calm, Restraint

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the reports of excesses during the security operations conducted by Myanmar’s security forces in Rakhine State and urges restraint and calm to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Secretary-General underlines the responsibility of the Government of Myanmar to provide security and assistance to all those in need and to enable the United Nations and its partners to extend the humanitarian support they are ready to provide.

The current situation underlines the urgency of seeking holistic approaches to addressing the complex root causes of violence.  The Secretary-General urges the Government of Myanmar to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine.

The Secretary-General appreciates the efforts of the Bangladesh authorities and communities to meet the dire needs of recent arrivals.  He encourages the Government to ensure refugees are able to avail themselves of the support the United Nations and partners are mobilized to provide.

Myanmar: Worsening cycle of violence in Rakhine must be broken urgently, UN expert warns

Myanmar: Worsening cycle of violence in Rakhine must be broken urgently, UN expert warns
GENEVA (31 August 2017) – A United Nations human rights expert has expressed alarm at the deteriorating situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, affecting not just the Rakhine and Muslim populations but also other communities. Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are now reported to be fleeing towards Bangladesh.

“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly and I am concerned that many thousands of people are increasingly at risk of grave violations of their human rights,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee.

“The worsening cycle of violence is of grave concern and must be broken urgently.”

Ms. Lee said the suffering of the Rohingya was particularly poignant this week, while the world’s Muslim communities celebrated Eid al-Adha on 1 September but the Rohingya remained in a precarious situation, not knowing their future or the fate of their relatives.

Latest estimates from UN sources suggest more than 27,000 people have crossed into Bangladesh in the area around Cox’s Bazar, while 20,000 more remain stranded between the two countries.  The number continues to grow.

The Special Rapporteur noted concerns over both the extremist attacks which followed the release of the final report by the Rakhine Advisory Commission, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the major security operations undertaken in response to the attacks.

“I am concerned that these events will derail efforts to address the root causes of the systematic discrimination and recurrent violence in Rakhine State,” said the Special Rapporteur.

“If human rights concerns are not properly addressed, and if people remain politically and economically marginalized, then northern Rakhine may provide fertile ground for radicalization, with people becoming increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by extremists,” said Ms. Lee. “These concerns were raised by the Advisory Commission and I share them fully.”

“I am saddened to receive reports that, while the authorities are helping Rakhine and other communities living in affected townships evacuate to safer locations, this assistance is not being extended to the Rohingya Muslims,” she added.

The situation had worsened considerably since extremist attacks on 25 August, with credible multiple sources reporting violations which include Rohingyas being indiscriminately killed and injured by military gunfire, even while fleeing, and helicopters and rocket-propelled grenades being used against the civilian population.

Ms. Lee reminded the authorities of their human rights obligations to give equal protection to people from all communities, whether from attacks by extremists or excessive action from the security forces.  She has previously expressed concern over the military build-up in Rakhine State, urging the security forces to exercise restraint in all circumstances and to respect human rights.

“I express the strongest condemnation of the attacks carried out by militant extremists and urge them to immediately halt further violence against the innocent civilian population.

“I call on the Government to ensure the immediate provision of assistance to all affected communities in Rakhine State, and grant unfettered access to the United Nations to provide humanitarian assistance, including to address protection concerns, and to monitor the situation. Even before last Friday’s attacks, access for humanitarian actors had been very limited in northern Rakhine, negatively impacting the support they provide.”

This statement has been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, and the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes.

ENDS

Alarming deterioration in northern Rakhine was preventable, Zeid says, urging restraint

Alarming deterioration in northern Rakhine was preventable, Zeid says, urging restraint

GENEVA (29 August 2017) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday expressed alarm at the violence and the incitement to further violence in the north of Rakhine State since the attacks on security forces in three northern townships of the state on Friday. He urged all sides to renounce the use of violence and called on State authorities to ensure they operate in line with their obligations under international human rights law.

“I utterly condemn the violent attacks on security personnel, which have led to the loss of many lives and the displacement of thousands of people,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “Unfortunately, what we feared appears to be occurring. Decades of persistent and systematic human rights violations, including the very violent security responses to the attacks since October 2016, have almost certainly contributed to the nurturing of violent extremism, with everyone ultimately losing.”

“This turn of events is deplorable. It was predicted and could have been prevented.”

The High Commissioner warned all sides against further fuelling the violence. He called on the political leadership to condemn the inflammatory rhetoric and incitement to hatred that is proliferating, including on social media. Zeid also expressed concern about claims by the State Counsellor’s Office that international aid workers were complicit in or supporting the attacks.

“Such statements are irresponsible and only serve to increase fears and the potential for further violence,” he said. “I am extremely concerned that the unsupported allegations against international aid organizations place their staff in danger and may make it impossible for them to deliver essential aid.”

High Commissioner Zeid said the perpetrators of the attacks on security personnel must be brought to justice, as must those who have been attacking the civilian population. All this must occur with full respect for international human rights law. State authorities should issue clear instructions to security forces to refrain from using disproportionate force, minimize damage and injuries and respect the right to life. Those who use excessive force must be held accountable. Zeid also called on the authorities to facilitate humanitarian access to the affected areas.

“The State has a duty to protect those within its territory – without discrimination,” Zeid said.

“I call on the Government of Myanmar to follow the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, headed by Kofi Annan, for an integrated and calibrated response to the situation in Rakhine State, to address rather than sacrifice human rights concerns in the interests of maintaining peace and order.”

High Commissioner Zeid also expressed concern that more than 8,700 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh since the attacks, adding to the tens of thousands who have been arriving in Bangladesh since October 2016. He appealed to the international community to help Bangladesh cope with the refugee influx.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / rcolville@ohchr.org), Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or or LizThrossell (+41 22 917 94 66 / ethrossell@ohchr.org 
 
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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Myanmar

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Myanmar

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the reports of civilians being killed during security operations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

This latest round of violence comes after the attacks on Myanmar security forces on 25 August. The Secretary-General, who condemned those attacks, reiterates the importance of addressing the root causes of the violence and the responsibility of the Government of Myanmar to provide security and assistance to those in need.

The Secretary-General fully supports the recommendations of the report by Kofi Annan and urges the Government to effectively implement them.

Recognizing that Bangladesh has hosted generously refugees from Myanmar for decades, the Secretary-General appeals for the authorities to continue to allow the Rohingya fleeing violence to seek safety in Bangladesh. Many of those fleeing are women and children, some of whom are wounded. He calls for humanitarian agencies to be granted unfettered and free access to affected communities in need of assistance and protection.  The United Nations stands ready to provide all necessary support to both Myanmar and Bangladesh in that regard.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General

Jerusalem, 28 August 2017

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on attacks in Rakhine State, Myanmar

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on attacks in Rakhine State, Myanmar

The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the attacks carried out against the Myanmar security forces in northern areas of Rakhine State. He extends his heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. He hopes those responsible for this unacceptable violence will be swiftly brought to justice.

The Secretary-General has been closely following developments in Rakhine State and is concerned over the escalating tensions in the region. He reiterates the importance of addressing the root causes of violence, in particular issues related to identity and citizenship, and reducing inter-communal tensions. He strongly urges all the communities in Rakhine State to choose the path of peace.

The Secretary-General stresses that, while taking the necessary measures to curb attacks by criminal elements in the region, the security forces must protect civilians at all times, in line with international humanitarian and human rights law.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General

New York, 25 August 2017

Statement of the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Myanmar Renata Lok-Dessallien on attacks in Rakhine State

Yangon, 25 August 2017 – The UN condemns in the strongest terms the series of coordinated attacks carried out against the Myanmar security forces in northern areas of Rakhine State in the early hours on 25 August. We regret the loss of life, express deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

We call on all parties to refrain from violence, protect civilians, restore law and order and resolve issues through dialogue and peaceful means.

The grave events confirm the significance of government’s commitment to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State for the betterment of all communities.

We are deeply concerned about the security situation in Rakhine State. We continue to follow the situation and remain in contact with authorities.

ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္ဆိုင္ရာ အၾကံေပးေကာ္မရွင္၏ အျပီးသတ္အစီရင္ခံစာႏွင့္ပတ္သက္၍ ကုလသမဂၢ၏ ထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္

ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္ဆိုင္ရာ အၾကံေပးေကာ္မရွင္၏ အျပီးသတ္အစီရင္ခံစာႏွင့္ပတ္သက္ကုလသမဂ၏ ထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္

ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္ဆိုင္ရာ အၾကံေပး ေကာ္မရွင္၏ အျပီးသတ္အစီရင္ခံစာကို ၾကိဳဆိုပါသည္။ အစီရင္ခံစာတြင္ပါရွိေသာ အၾကံျပဳခ်က္မ်ားကို ေလ႔လာသံုးသပ္ရန္ ေစာင့္ေမွ်ာ္လ်က္ရွိပါသည္။

အစိုးရမွ ဤေကာ္မရွင္ကို ဖြဲ႔စည္းျခင္း၏ အေရးပါမႈကိုလည္းေကာင္း၊ ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္အတြင္းရွိ လူမႈအသိုက္အ၀န္းအားလံုး၏ အေျခအေနအရပ္ရပ္ကို ေလ့လာသံုးသပ္ရန္ႏွင့္ ပ႗ိပကၡကာကြယ္တားဆီးေရး၊ လူမႈအသိုက္အ၀န္းမ်ားအၾကားျပန္လည္သင့္ျမတ္ေရး၊ အဖြဲ႔အစည္းမ်ားပိုမိုအားေကာင္းခိုင္မာေစေရးႏွင့္ ဖြံ႔ျဖိဳးေရးႏွင့္ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာေထာက္ထားမႈဆိုင္ရာ အကူအညီမ်ားႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္သည့္ အၾကံျပဳခ်က္မ်ား ေပးရန္အတြက္ ေကာ္မရွင္အား အပ္ႏွင္းထားေသာ တာ၀န္၀တၲရားမ်ား၏ အေရးၾကီးမႈကိုလည္းေကာင္း ထပ္ေလာင္းအသိအမွတ္ျပဳပါသည္။

ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံအစိုးရသည္ ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္အတြင္းရွိ လူမႈအသိုက္အ၀န္းအားလံုး၏အေျခအေန ပိုမိုတိုးတက္ ေကာင္းမြန္ေစရန္အတြက္ ေကာ္မရွင္၏ အၾကံျပဳခ်က္မ်ားကို အေကာင္အထည္ေဖာ္ရာတြင္ ကုလသမဂၢ အေနျဖင့္ ပံ႔ပိုးေပးရန္ အဆင္သင့္ရွိပါသည္။

UN Statement on the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State

UN Statement on the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State

We welcome the release of the comprehensive report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State and take note of its emphasis on issues related to identity and citizenship, particularly its call for freedom of movement for all people, as well as the need to address the root causes of violence and reduce inter-communal tensions.

We look forward to reviewing the report’s recommendations further.

In the meantime, we would like to acknowledge again the significance of the Government’s establishment of this Commission and the importance of its mandate to analyze the situation of all communities in Rakhine State and draft recommendations toward conflict prevention, reconciliation, institution building and long-term development, and humanitarian services.

The UN stands ready to support the Government’s implementation of the recommendations for the betterment of all communities in Rakhine State.

 

Myanmar: UN rights expert urges restraint in security operation in Rakhine State

Myanmar: UN rights expert urges restraint in security operation in Rakhine State

 

GENEVA (11 August 2017) – A United Nations human rights expert has expressed alarm over reports that an army battalion has flown into Rakhine State in western Myanmar to help local authorities boost security in the region.

 

“This development, which reportedly took place yesterday, is a cause for major concern,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee. “The Government must ensure that security forces exercise restraint in all circumstances and respect human rights in addressing the security situation in Rakhine State.”

 

Ms. Lee added: “I am particularly reminded of the allegations of serious human rights violations which followed security force operations in the aftermath of attacks against three border guard police facilities in Maungdaw and Rathedaung in October and further clashes in November.”

 

“I have noted from the Summary Report of the Investigation Commission for Maungdaw in Rakhine State, publically released last Sunday, that many allegations of human rights violations are being investigated or have been recommended for further investigation,” the expert highlighted.

 

“The Presidential Commission admitted it was not able to verify many of these alleged violations or crimes including torture, rape and arson, and asked that these be properly addressed by the relevant authorities,” Ms. Lee said.

 

“There have been increasing reports of incidents affecting the local population, including the killings of six Mro villagers on 3 August,” she said. “I share the concern of the Myanmar Government and its people regarding the safety and security of those living in Rakhine State in the light of these incidents.”

 

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged the State’s responsibility to provide security and protect people from attacks by extremists, but said this responsibility had to cover all residents, and the authorities could not afford more security to some than others.

 

The expert reminded that the use of force must always be in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality to ensure full respect for human lives. “Any measures security forces take or any operations they undertake to secure the areas concerned must be carried out in line with international human rights norms and standards,” Ms. Lee stressed.

 

 

 

The expert’s call has been endorsed by the UN the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard.

 

ENDS

 

The Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar, Professor Yanghee Lee, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Ms. Agnes Callamard, are are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

 

UN Human Rights, country page: Myanmar

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Azwa Petra (+ 44 22 928 9103 / apetra@ohchr.org) or write to sr-myanmar@ohchr.org.

 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:

Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

 

You can access this press release online

 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

 

Myanmar: UN expert lists catalogue of concerns as human rights slide in worsening conflict

Myanmar: UN expert lists catalogue of concerns as human rights slide in worsening conflict

GENEVA (24 July 2017) – A United Nations Special Rapporteur has issued a strongly worded statement accusing the Government of Myanmar of policies reminiscent of the previous military government, and of presiding over a worsening security and human rights situation.

Yanghee Lee, ending a 12-day visit to the country, listed a catalogue of concerns including reports of killings, torture, the use of human shields by security forces, deaths in custody and an ongoing humanitarian crisis for the Rohingya people and other minorities forced from their homes.   

Her own movements had been severely restricted, she added, and access to crisis-hit areas remained off-limits even to international organizations.  People who met her faced harassment, and the Government had sought to place unprecedented pre-conditions on her visit.  

“I am disappointed to see the tactics applied by the previous Government still being used,” said Ms. Lee, launching launching her statement as her visit drew to a close.  “I understand the new Government wishes to normalize its relations with the United Nations, but Myanmar must first become a country that deserves less attention and scrutiny.

“We are told not to expect Myanmar to transition into a democracy overnight – that it needs time and space,” she noted. “But in the same way, Myanmar should not expect to have its close scrutiny removed or its special monitoring mechanisms dismantled overnight. This cannot happen until there is real and discernible progress on human rights.” 

Ms. Lee said the situation of the Rohingya people from Rakhine State, many of whom have been forced from their homes amid reports of grave human rights violations, had hardly improved since her last visit in January.

“I continue to receive reports of violations allegedly committed by security forces during operations. There also appear to be incidents of Rohingya being targeted for applying to be verified as citizens, as well as village administrators and other Muslims targeted for being ‘collaborators’ for working with the authorities – leaving many Rohingya civilians terrified, and often caught between violence on both sides,” she said, adding that she was severely concerned about the treatment of prisoners.

The Special Rapporteur noted that the authorities have already recognised that State protection and security must extend not only to the Rakhine but also the Muslim communities. However, she said, “the Government must take concrete steps in this regard, including investigating all alleged violations, ending discriminatory practices and restoring freedom of movement.” 

She said around 120,000 people from the area were still living in camps after fleeing their homes, and there was little prospect of a long-term solution. “Some people were told they would be in the camps for three days, but this has turned into five long years,” she added.

Concern was growing over a worsening situation in Kachin and Shan states, the Special Rapporteur noted, with lack of access for international organizations a worsening feature in both.

“I was particularly dismayed to learn that the situation in northern Shan State is deteriorating, with reports of more conflict, more alleged rights violations by security forces and armed groups, and inadequate assistance for civilians. 

“There have been numerous reports of killings, torture, even the use of human shields by the armed forces, allegedly in some cases accompanied by threats of further violence if incidents are reported,” said Ms. Lee.

The Special Rapporteur, who visited Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw as well as parts of Rakhine, Shan and Kayin States, said she had been “astonished” at Government attempts to limit her activities and movements. She was not permitted to visit Hsipaw in Shan State, where three journalists are being held in prison, even though it is a tourist destination.  Other areas of the country were also placed off-limits.

The Special Rapporteur also highlighted the confiscation of land to create so-called Special Economic Zones. 

“Farmers and fishing communities described having their land confiscated with little or no consultation or compensation, with efforts to seek redress often gone unanswered,” said Ms. Lee. 

“In some cases farmers still have to pay tax on confiscated land. Others are told they can buy back their own land at an inflated price. I heard similar stories in a number of areas, showing this to be a truly nationwide problem.”  

During the visit, which took place from 10-21 July at the invitation of the Government, the Special Rapporteur met a broad range of officials including political and community leaders and civil society representatives, as well as victims of human rights violations. It was her sixth fact-finding mission to the country, and the third since the new Government came to power.

Ms. Lee will present a full report on her visit to the UN General Assembly in October 2017.

ENDS

Ms. Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Lee has served  as the Chairperson of the Coordinating Committee of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council (2016-2017). Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center. 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Myanmar 

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Azwa Petra (+ 44 22 928 9103 / apetra@ohchr.org) or write to sr-myanmar@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

You can access this press release online   

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org