Myanmar slammed for refusing visa to UN mission investigating abuse of Rohingya

July 12, 2017 10:30 pm

A refugee woman walks on a muddy path as she carries a child at the Kutupalong makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, July 8, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

A Human Rights Watch representative has criticized  for refusing to give visas to a team probing abuse of Rohingya Muslims, saying the refusal amounts to “a slap in the face” of victims.  
Myanmar’s government has said it would not issue visas for the staff of a UN mission set up to investigate killings, rape and torture by security forces against Rohingya Muslims, saying it is conducting its own probe into the atrocities against the minority group.
The refusal amounts to “a slap in the face to victims who suffered grave human rights violations by Myanmar’s state security forces,” John Fisher, a Human Rights Watch representative in Geneva, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Does Aung San Suu Kyi’s government really want to be included in a very small and ignominious club of countries that reject Human Rights Council decisions?” he added, noting that “it would be a travesty” for Myanmar to obstruct the work of independent, international investigators.
Suu Kyi is currently the de facto leader of Myanmar as she is barred from holding the position of president under the country’s army-drafted constitution. 
Despite not overseeing the military, Suu Kyi has been criticized for failing to stand up for the more than one million Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine, who face severe discrimination and are denied citizenship.

The photo shows ruins of a house in Rakhine state in western Myanmar in December 2016. (Via EPA)

Myanmarese troops and police are accused of killing and raping Rohingya Muslims widely viewed as outsiders by the majority Buddhists.
The government has denied journalists and aid workers access to Rakhine, which has been under a military lockdown since October 2016, when the military launched a campaign to hunt down those who allegedly staged deadly attacks on police posts.
Since the beginning of the army’s operation, some 75,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine to Bangladesh, according to UN estimates.
Last month, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein called for an international probe into Myanmar’s months-long crackdown against the Rohingya.
Later in May, the Geneva-based rights council appointed three investigators to serve as the members of the UN mission to “urgently” investigate abuses reportedly committed by the security forces, especially in Rakhine state.
Back in February, a UN report, based on interviews with 220 Rohingya refugees, said Myanmar’s forces had committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya in a campaign that “very likely” amounts to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing.
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