The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee [official website] on Thursday expressed [press release] concern for the people of Myanmar who may face reprisal for meeting with her. Lee recently concluded an official visit in the area during which individuals shared accounts of human rights abuses by the government. Some of the statements came from those in a hard labor camp as well as survivors of a village burning. Lee fears these individuals who met with her will face reprisals from those who believe the accounts given are contrary to the government. “I am deeply concerned about those with whom I met and spoke, those critical of the Government, those defending and advocating for the rights of others, and those who expressed their thoughts and opinions which did not conform to the narrative of those in the position of power.” Lee will submit her report on Myanmar in March.
Reports of human rights violations in Myanmar has prompted international concern. The UN announced [JURIST report] in early January that Lee would travel to the country to assess the human rights situation following concerns over the safety of refugees in Kachin State and reports of increased violence in Rakhine State. The Myanmar military’s “campaign of violence” against Rohingya people constitutes crimes against humanity [JURIST report], according to an Amnesty International (AI) report in December. In November a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern [JURIST report] about possible crimes against humanity committed against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.