Rakhine, Dec 20: Myanmar has banned a United Nations official investigating the ongoing crackdown in Rakhine State from the country, after claiming a previous report by her was biased and unfair, the UN said Wednesday.
Yanghee Lee, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, was informed Wednesday all access to the country has been denied and cooperation withdrawn for the duration of her tenure, the UN said in a statement. “I am puzzled and disappointed by this decision by the Myanmar Government,” Lee said. “This declaration of non-cooperation with my mandate can only be viewed as a strong indication that there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine, as well as in the rest of the country.”
The ban came a day after Myanmar state media reported that a mass grave with 10 bodies inside had been found at Inn Din, north of Rakhine state capital Sittwe. Photos published by the military showed the grave being exhumed and multiple skeletal remains.
The army said “an investigation would be carried out,” according to the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed the Bangladeshi border from Rakhine State since renewed violence broke out in late August. Both the UN and the United States say the violence amounts to ethnic cleansing.
The Myanmar government says the bloodshed resulted from a military crackdown on militants who carried out co-ordinated attacks on border posts. A recent Médecins Sans Frontières report said at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in attacks during the first month of the crackdown in Rakhine. In November, Myanmar’s military said that 376 “ARSA Bengali terrorists” were killed in fighting between August 25 and September 5, referring to the Rohingya insurgent group.