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UN rights expert: Myanmar not interested in building democracy
© WikiMedia (Peerapat Wimolrungkarat)
UN rights expert: Myanmar not interested in building democracy

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar presented a report to the UN General Assembly Wednesday criticizing Myanmar’s languishing path to a democratic transition.

Special Rapporteur Lee Yanghee’s report criticized the government’s record and ongoing efforts to restrict freedom of the press, freedom of speech, the right to assemble and religious freedom. According to Lee such restrictions are an “arbitrary, biased and opaque application of laws, many of which are vague, overly broad, incompatible with international standards and in contravention of constitutional rights.”

According to the report, journalists like Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of Reuters Myanmar bureau were entrapped, arrested and sentenced to prison for reporting on the Rohingya issue. Citizens have been arrested and imprisoned for allegedly treading on copies of the Constitution. Activists have been arrested for engaging in protests. The report claims that provincial governments are restricting Christian and Islamic education. Meanwhile, the government is reportedly attempting to “assuage Buddhist ultranationalist sentiments.”

The report also discusses citizen land rights, natural resource environmental concerns, and oppressive atrocities carried out by the military against minority populations. Lee’s report places particular emphasis on the state of the Rohingya minority. The report calls for involvement by the International Criminal Court as well as the UN.

To prepare her report, Lee made repeated requests to visit Myanmar. Her requests were repeated denied by the Myanmar Government. Lee made an additional request to visit Rohingya refugee camps in India, but this request has not received a reply. Lee was only able to visit Rohingya refugee camps in Bangledesh and conduct teleconferences with refugees in India.