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Myanmar Buddhists protest United Nations human rights envoy’s visit

Protesters hold signs as they wait for the arrival of Yanghee Lee, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, in Sittwe, Rakhine state, for a visit, July 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Buddhists have protested in Rakhine state against the information-gathering visit of the United Nations' special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, who has slammed the government's treatment of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.
Fewer than 100 demonstrators waited for the arrival of Yanghee Lee in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, on Wednesday, chanting slogans and holding signs that called the UN rapporteur unfair and unwanted as she passed in her car.
Rakhine has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands forced from homes to live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
According to the UN, the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
The photo taken on November 26, 2016 shows a Myanmar Rohingya refugee carrying the body of six-month-old Alam for his burial in a refugee camp in Teknaf, in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district. (Photo by AFP)
Last October, the army launched a crackdown in Rakhine after a deadly attack on the country’s border guards left nine policemen dead. The government blamed the Rohingya for the assault.
There have been numerous accounts by eyewitnesses of summary executions, rapes and arson attacks against Muslims since the crackdown began. The military has blocked access to Rakhine and banned journalists and aid workers from entering the zone.
Upon an invitation of the government, Lee is on a 12-day visit to Myanmar during which she is scheduled to meet political and community leaders and civil society representatives to discuss human rights issues with them.
After her arrival in Sittwe, Lee visited a prison where hundreds of Rohingya men are detained on suspicion of having connections to the perpetrators of the October assaults.
Than Tun, a leader of the Rakhine Buddhist community, said, "Yanghee Lee has been here in Rakhine three or four times but every time she goes back and writes a report about her trip or has press conferences and never mentioned any good thing about either Rakhine people or the Myanmar government."
"What Rakhine people think about Yanghee Lee is that she is too one-sided," he claimed.
The United Nations Human Rights Council agreed in March to send an international fact-finding mission to Myanmar tasked with investigating allegations of crimes by Myanmar’s security forces against the Rohingya.
Myanmar said it would deny entry to the members of the UN fact-finding mission.

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