Myanmar's Rohingya "terrified", says rights expert

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Members of the displaced Rohingya community in Myanmar. Photo: Julia Wallace/IRIN

Worsening conditions for minorities in Myanmar have left communities "terrified" amid reports that people have been used as "human shields" by armed forces, a UN rights expert has said.

Yanghee Lee, who's the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, made her comments at the end of her latest visit to the country – her third under the government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a statement, the UN Special Rapporteur cited the humanitarian plight of Rohingya muslims from Rakhine state, as well as a worsening situation in Kachin and Shan states.

Daniel Johnson has more:

Before her latest visit to Myanmar, Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee last went to the country in January to assess human rights developments.

In that time, things have "hardly improved" for minority Rohingya muslims in Rakhine state, who are "terrified” by the violence around them, she said.

Today, around 120,000 people from Rakhine state still live in camps, five years after fleeing their homes following clashes with Myanmar nationals.

Ms Lee added that she continued to receive allegations of violence against the Rohingya by the security forces, while reports have surfaced of Rohingya being attacked by hardliners from their own community after applying for citizenship.

The UN rights expert added that "hardliners in both communities" in Rakhine state were also being held responsible for some clashes.

Serious human rights concerns remain elsewhere in the country too.

In northern Shan state, the UN Special Rapporteur cited a "deteriorating" situation, with ongoing clashes between ethnic armed groups and government troops – also known as Tatmadaw.

It was in Shan state, Ms Lee said, that "numerous reports" had surfaced about the Tatmadaw using people as human shields, and of suspected insurgents being forced to wear military uniforms and then tortured.

The situation in Kachin state is also "extremely serious", the rights expert noted, although she had not been granted access there and her movements had been "severely restricted".

In an appeal to authorities to push ahead with reforms, Ms Lee said she was "disappointed to see the see the tactics applied by the previous Government" still being used.

And she added that close scrutiny of Myanmar cannot be relaxed “until there is real and discernible progress on human rights".

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’34″


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