UN envoy says Myanmar blocked visit to Rakhine state (Photo: Anadolu Agency)
UN envoy says Myanmar blocked visit to Rakhine state (Photo: Anadolu Agency)

Rakhine, 23 Shawwal 1436/8 August 2013 (MINA) – Myanmar’s government blocked a UN  envoy from visiting conflict-torn Rakhine state this week as rights groups alleged authorities were neglecting Rohingya Muslims in their response to devastating flooding that has claimed dozens of lives.

Yanghee Lee, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, told a press conference Friday that her request to visit the state was denied “well before” the start of her visit.

The envoy has raised the ire of both the government and extremist Buddhists during previous visits for her statements on the Rohingya.

Buddhist-led riots that erupted in 2012 have left around 140,000 Rohingya confined to makeshift displacement camps in desperate conditions. Anadolu Agency reported as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).

Their plight became more perilous late last month when Cyclone Komen hit land in nearby Bangladesh, adding to floods that have wrought devastation across South and Southeast Asia following torrential monsoon rains.

Lee was banned from visiting the state amid claims that Rohingya were being “totally neglected” during the Myanmar government’s flood response.

“I firmly believe in the importance of making my assessment based on the realities I have seen for myself on the ground,” Lee said, though she did not reference the claims of Rohingya being neglected.

She added that she was “acutely conscious” that Rakhine officials had to travel to the commercial capital Yangon to meet her “while dealing at the same time with a natural disaster.”

The rights group Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK alleged in a statement Friday that the government “has been evacuating ethnic Rakhine from the low-lying areas to highlands in many towns of Rakhine. State government and central government supplied aid and relief to the Rakhine residents while Rohingyas were totally neglected.”

Lee also complained that her request for a 10-day visit, in line with her previous trips, was denied by the government.

She has angered the government by criticizing restrictions on political freedom and demanding citizenship rights for the country’s 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, many of whom live in Rakhine state.

She has become a hate figure for Buddhist monks led by firebrand Ashin Wirathu. He denounced Lee as a “whore” and a “bitch” at a public rally in January. (T/P002/RO6)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)

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