Myanmar rights violations threaten region: UN envoy
Kuala Lumpur, July 18 (IANS) Gross human rights violations in Myanmar continue to jeopardize lives and "relentlessly impact" its neighbours, threatening regional peace and security, a UN special rapporteur said on Thursday.
The human rights situation in Myanmar has created "serious… issues for South and Southeast Asia", including 1.5 million refugees who have fled and are now residing in countries around the region.
It has also contributed to the trafficking and smuggling of people, and the drug trade inside and outside the region.
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee gave the findings in her end-of-mission press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Efe news reported.
"The continuing gross violations of human rights in Myanmar jeopardize the lives of people around that country and relentlessly impact Myanmar's neighbours in such a way that could threaten South and Southeast Asian peace and security," she said.
Lee also highlighted worsening human rights violations and abuses against the civilian population amid conflict between the Tatmadaw (armed forces) and Rakhine insurgent group the Arakan Army, adding that an ongoing government Internet shutdown in northern Rakhine and southern Chin states also impeded residents' access to humanitarian aid amid flooding and displacement.
Due to the conflict, 55,000 people have been displaced across the Chin and Rakhine states since January, and Lee said three villages were burned down by the Tatmadaw in Rakhine in the past two weeks.
Large-scale social media campaigns were also being waged to manipulate public opinion, causing fear among citizens over hate speech and misinformation targeting religious and ethnic minorities and the LGBTI community, according to the findings.
The UN envoy also raised concerns about forced land evictions - particularly in the Bago region - leading to "crippling legal proceedings".
She urged the 10 states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to play a role in persuading the government to bring about criminal justice.
The rapporteur was denied entry into Myanmar, so conducted her research in Thailand and Malaysia, which are both home to many refugees from the country.
The Myanmar government "appears to be increasing pressure and engaging governments of neighboring countries in efforts to violate rights and avoid scrutiny," Lee said.
She added that she had to abort part of her visit due to "interference", which "would not be tolerated".