UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee at a press conference on Sunday. Photo: UNB/Bayazid Akter
Dhaka, July 8 (UNB) - UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee on Sunday laid emphasis on "justice" for Rohingyas and holding perpetrators accountable seeking their safe and dignified return to Myanmar.
“Enough is enough. Justice is the key demand of Rohingyas I spoke to,” she said while responding to a UNB question at a press conference in the city.
Asked about possibility of referring Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate atrocities committed against Rohingyas, Lee said there are two permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) who are friends of Myanmar.
Without mentioning the names of the two countries, Lee said they might not make this happen.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein recently urged the UN Security Council to immediately refer Myanmar to the ICC so that all allegations of crimes against humanity and genocide perpetrated against the Rohingya as well as allegations of war crimes against other ethnic groups can be investigated.
He also requested that the Human Rights Council recommends to the General Assembly the establishment of a new international, impartial and independent mechanism, complementary to the Fact-Finding Mission to assist the criminal investigation of individual perpetrators.
Lee said she has joined the call and she has made the call too but the UNSC has to refer to the ICC. “This is why I am recommending accountability mechanism to be established immediately,” she said.
Asked whether she communicated with China to facilitate her visit to Myanmar, she said Myanmar is a sovereign state and China is not the guardian of Myanmar.
Lee said Rohingya people are going to stay here for longer period as the repatriation is unlikely to start anytime soon and this is so sadly because conditions are not conducive yet.
She mentioned that the joint response plan is only 26 percent funded. She appealed to the donors to step up and provide the funding that is urgently needed to move to medium and longer term planning.
Lee said the international community should not forget the host community in Cox’s Bazar who have been sharing their resources with Rohingyas.
Photo: UNB/Bayazid Akter
The special envoy said she had asked the government of Bangladesh to facilitate a visit for her to see the conditions of the Bashanchar Island. “It was conveyed to me by the Bangladeshi officials that construction on the island is going on, and that my visit would only be possible after rainy season.”
She said it is more than clear now unless the cycle of violence and persecutions is broken, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law will continue in Myanmar. “The enduring impunity must come to an end.”
Lee urged the international community to come together without delay and establish the mechanism at the Human Rights Council session in September.
She said Rohingyas living in Bangladesh must be recognised as Rohingya refugees by all, including by host governments such as Bangladesh and they must be referred to as refugees in all public and private statements by all actors.
The special envoy said accountability for the atrocities committed is urgently needed, and must be delivered.
“Government of Myanmar has made no progress or showed any real will to dismantle the system of discrimination and make Rakhine State safe. The Rohingya refugees will not be returning to Myanmar in the near future,” Lee said.
She laid emphasis on education for all, access to meaningful livelihood opportunities and vocational training and giving Rohingyas a dignified life.
Lee bemoaned that the government of Myanmar continues to deny her access despite the call by the Human Rights Council for Myanmar to cooperate with her mandate.
She said she requested India too on several occasions seeking permission to visit Rohingyas living in India but she did receive no reply. Lee wants to visit China too.
The special envoy is determined to reach out as much as possible to victims of human rights abuses in Myanmar who are located elsewhere and other locations in order to learn more about their experiences to understand better the human rights situation in Myanmar.
The Special Rapporteur spent days in Dhaka meeting UN and government officials and then travel to Cox's Bazar where she met UN agencies, the humanitarian and protection sector, health and GBV actors, NGOs and government officials.
Following her visit to Bangladesh, the human rights expert will share her findings when she presents a report to the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in October 2018.
Yanghee Lee was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.