Departing UN expert alleges war crimes and crimes against humanity in Myanmar
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Departing UN expert alleges war crimes and crimes against humanity in Myanmar

United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights Yanghee Lee on Wednesday called for investigations into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by the Myanmar military against civilian populations in the Rakhine and Chin states.

Lee said that the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar military, has ramped up military operations over the last several weeks and ignored all calls for a ceasefire, including those from the Arakan Army, which is the military’s primary opposition in the affected states. The Arakan Army declared a unilateral ceasefire recently, but the military has continued to conduct air and artillery strikes that have targeted civilian populations. The military is also blocking medical aid from reaching the affected areas.

Lee said despite a shutdown of mobile internet access in the area, she is still receiving reports from within Rakhine and Chin regarding the hostilities and the military’s violence against journalists and non-combatants. She called on the UN “to step up its efforts to protect civilians in Rakhine and Chin and ensure that there is not another systemic failure like in 2017,” when the Tatmadaw carried out attacks against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine. Up to 700,000 people were displaced as a result of those attacks, and Lee said the military’s actions at that time amounted to genocide.

Lee, who is stepping down after six years in the post of special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, later told Reuters that the international community, including the UN, has failed to stop human rights violations. “We repeat the phrase, ‘Never again’. It goes on and on,” she said.