Yanghee Lee calls for top level UN probe into Rakhine violence


GENEVA — The United Nations rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar called Thursday for the creation of a Commission of Inquiry, the UN’s highest-level probe, to investigate abuses in the country. 

Rights envoy Yanghee Lee made the appeal in a report submitted to the UN rights council, currently holding its main annual session in Geneva. 

She urged the 47-member body to establish a Commission of Inquiry “to investigate the systematic, structural, and institutional discrimination in policy, law and practice, as well long-standing persecution, against the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine State.”

She said the probe should focus on violence in 2012, 2014 and the army crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine since October, which came in retaliation for attacks by militants on police border posts. 

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

The UN expert said the episodes in question “may amount to crimes against humanity.”

A UN rights office investigation accused Myanmar’s security forces of murder, rape and torture in the Rakhine operation since October. 

Myanmar has dismissed mounting international pressure over alleged abuses of Rohingya Muslims as “biased and unfair”.

Escapees have given the UN chilling accounts of babies being stabbed to death, people being burnt alive  and widespread gang rape during those operations.

Setting up a Commission of Inquiry must be done through a resolution approved by council members, which could be adopted before the session ends later this month. 

On Friday, a group of 13 human rights organisations working in Myanmar issued a public statement urging the Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry. 

“Given the inability or unwillingness of these commissions to establish facts and hold perpetrators accountable, and the fact that national judicial and law enforcement authorities lack the both the independence and technical capacity to deal with such situations, we see no credible or effective alternative to a Commission of Inquiry,” the statement said. 

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar