Myanmar Foreign Affairs Minister Aung San Suu Kyi has ordered her ministry to reject visa requests from UN investigators appointed to report on the military’s alleged human rights atrocities in Shan, Kachin, and Rakhine states.
“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said we would not coordinate with UN fact-finding mission, as we have disassociated ourselves from the resolution because we do not think that the resolution is in keeping with what is actually happening on the ground,” deputy foreign affairs minister Kyaw Tin told parliament yesterday as reported by RFA.
“We will order Myanmar embassies not to grant any visa to UN fact finding mission members,” the deputy minister added. He said UN investigators would have to carry out their mission by visiting neighboring countries.
The U.N. Human Rights Council approved the mission by consensus in March in response to international pressure, and in May, it appointed three legal experts and human rights advocates to lead it. Their mandate includes fact-finding mission to investigate Myanmar army’s alleged human rights violations in ethnic minority areas, especially against the Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State.
The council has appointed Indian lawyer Indira Jaising, Sri Lanka’s former human rights chief Radhika Coomaraswamy, and Australian human rights advocate Christopher Dominic Sidoti to carry out the investigation. They are expected to produce a draft report by September.
An October 2016 raid by Rohingya militants on border guard posts left nine police officers dead. The military crackdown that ensued left over 1,000 dead and 90,000 Rohingya Muslims displaced. The UN found evidence of rape, torture, and murder committed by Myanmar security forces during the four-month crackdown, though the Myanmar government has defended the military from these claims.
NLD leader Win Htein responded to the reports in March: “We do not care about this kind of unfair report. Because we do not care, we do not worry.”
Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the UN fact-finding mission, deferring instead to the Rakhine State Advisory Commission, led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and appointed by Suu Kyi’s State Counselor Office. The commission does not report on human rights abuses.
In April 23, rights groups called on the Myanmar government to cooperate with the UN mission.
However, at yesterday’s meeting with the deputy foreign affairs minister, lawmakers appeared to agree with their government’s obstruction of the investigation.
One MP said: “This issue can harm our country’s sovereignty. [T]he government must do something effective to protect it.”
Myanmar journalists say arrests show media under ‘pressure’
About 100 Myanmar journalists gathered signatures on Friday for a petition denouncing the recent arrests of four reporters that raised concern about the freedom of the media despite a transition from full military rule.
Over a year since Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy came to power, Myanmar reporters say charges filed by the military this week against journalists reporting on an insurgent group threatened to reverse gains in press freedom.
Suu Kyi has not commented on the reporters, and her spokesman only said journalists must follow the law.