In an unprecedented move, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today sought the interventions of the President of the Human Rights Council, Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli for the removal of Professor Yanghee Lee as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for blatant violations of the UN Human Rights Council Resolution No. “5/2. Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council”, in particular, Article 3 – General principles of conduct.
“While grave human rights violations in Myanmar must be addressed, the same must not be undermined by the bias of the Special Rapporteur.” – stated Mr Paritosh Chakma, Director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights in a letter to the President of the UN Human Rights Council.
President of the UNHRC was urged to ensure compliance with the same standards he applied for the removal of Ms. Indira Jaising as the Chair of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar for an interview to Al Jazeera in which Ms Jaising expressed the “the risk of a genocide” which is being proven true.
ACHR stated that Special Rapporteur failed to name the Rohingya armed groups for the killing of six Mro villagers on 3 August 2017, five ethnic Daingnets/Chakmas on 26 August near Kyaungdoe village and another seven Mro ethnic people during an attack on Khon-Taing Village in Maungtaw Township on 28 August in Rakhine State.
Though the Rohingya armed groups carried out attacks on security forces and civilians on 9 October 2016 in which nine policemen were killed and on 25 August 2017 in which 30 police outposts were attacked leading to the death of 10 police officers, one soldier and one immigration officer, the Special Rapporteur Lee failed to name the Rohingya armed opposition groups.
Asian Centre for Human Rights alleged that UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Professor Yanghee Lee was so biased that she never used the term armed opposition groups with respect to Rohingya armed opposition groups but she had no hesitation to use “ethnic armed groups” with respect to Shan and other ethnic communities.
ACHR provided a tabular chart to expose the failure of the Special Rapporteur Professor Yanghee Lee to condemn the Rohingya armed opposition groups and selective approach to other armed opposition groups:
|Title||Date of the Statement||Statement of Ms Yanghee Lee||ACHR’s remarks on preference for the Rohingya|
|Myanmar: Worsening cycle of violence in Rakhine must be broken urgently, UN expert warns||31.08.2017||The Special Rapporteur noted concerns over both the extremist attacks which followed the release of the final report by the Rakhine Advisory Commission, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the major security operations undertaken in response to the attacks.||The Special Rapporteur purposely refused to name the origin/community of the “extremist” groups. The reference to “extremist” as made only after Asian Centre for Human Rights questioned her independence and impartiality in an email dated 28 August 2017.|
|Myanmar: UN rights expert urges restraint in security operation in Rakhine State||11.08.2017||“I am particularly reminded of the allegations of serious human rights violations which followed security force operations in the aftermath of attacks against three border guard police facilities in Maungdaw and Rathedaung in October and further clashes in November.”
“There have been increasing reports of incidents affecting the local population, including the killings of six Mro villagers on 3 August. I share the concern of the Myanmar Government and its people regarding the safety and security of those living in Rakhine State in the light of these incidents.”
|The Special Rapporteur purposely does not mention who carried out “attacks against three border guard police facilities in Maungdaw and Rathedaung in October”. This is despite the fact that it is universally known that the Rohingya armed groups carried out the attack.
The failure to name the perpetrators by the Special Rapporteur is an injustice to the victims. It creates an impression that Mros were killed by the security forces. This is despite the fact that members of the Rohingya armed groups killed ethnic Mros.
|Myanmar: UN expert lists catalogue of concerns as human rights slide in worsening conflict||24.07.2017||“I was particularly dismayed to learn that the situation in northern Shan State is deteriorating, with reports of more conflict, more alleged rights violations by security forces and armed groups, and inadequate assistance for civilians.”||The Special Rapporteur refused to name “armed groups” in the Rakhine State. The Special Rapporteur never named the armed groups of the Rohingyas for alleged human rights violations as she did for the armed groups in the Shan State.
|End of Mission Statement by Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar||21.07.2017||“However, there is also a reported increase in forced recruitment and abductions by the several Ethnic Armed Groups operating in the region as well as various militias. Civilians are caught between parties to the conflict facing abuses, risks from mines and clashes while less able to access assistance” (with respect to Tatmadaw).||The Special Rapporteur has no hesitation to name “Ethnic Armed Groups”. She has consistently refused to use the term armed groups with respect to the Rohingyas.|
|Statement by Ms. Yanghee LEE, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council||15.06.2017||In Shan and Kachin States, unacceptable reports of serious human rights violations allegedly committed by several parties to the conflict including the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups have continued to arise.||Once again, the Special Rapporteur has no hesitation to name “Ethnic Armed Groups”. She has consistently refused to use the term armed groups with respect to the Rohingyas.|
|Statement by Ms. Yanghee LEE, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council||13.03.2017||As you are all likely aware the situation in the state took on new dimensions on 9 October, when three Border Guard Police facilities were reportedly attacked, by groups of armed men in a coordinated manner, killing 9 members of the Myanmar Police Force.||The Special Rapporteur always uses “ethnic” before the armed groups of the ethnic communities. However, with respect to the Rohingya, the Special Rapporteur (i) does not use “armed group” but “armed men in a coordinated manner” to insinuate that there is no armed group of the Rohingyas and (ii) of course does not use term like “ethnic” to describe the armed groups of the Rohingyas.
|UN expert urges action to protect Rohingya population in Myanmar||27.02.2017||Speaking at the end of a four-day visit to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar Yanghee Lee said: “the magnitude of violence that these families have witnessed and experienced is far more extensive than I had originally speculated.”
During her visit, she met members of the Rohingya population who had fled to Bangladesh after 9 October 2016 when the Myanmar Border Guard Police facilities were attacked and reprisals followed.
“We all owe it to those I have met and their fellow community members to do everything in our power to ensure this is done and to give the Rohingya people reason to hope again,” she concluded.
|There is no reference to who carried out the attacks on 9 October.|
In addition to the above tabular chart, the Special Rapporteur further issued “End of Mission Statement by Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar” on 24 February 2017, press statement “Cox’s Bazar: UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar to visit Bangladesh – 20 to 23 February on 17 February 2017, “End of Mission Statement by Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar” on 23.01.2017, press statement “Myanmar: UN expert warns of worsening rights situation after “lockdown” in Rakhine State” on 18 November 2016, press statement “International community must not lose sight of Myanmar challenges, UN expert warns” on 28 October 2016 and press statement “UN experts urge Myanmar to address serious violations of human rights in northern Rakhine State” on 24 October 2016.
“In none of these statements, Special Rapporteur Lee mentioned ‘armed groups’ or ‘armed opposition groups’ of the Rohingyas. The failure to mention ‘armed groups’ or ‘armed opposition groups’ of the Rohingyas in all the statements is not a mere co-incidence but an informed decision arising out of the bias of the Special Rapporteur.” –stated ACHR.
ACHR also stated that “the bias of the Special Rapporteur towards the armed opposition groups of the Rohingyas has emboldened the Rohingya armed groups to attack non- Rakhine ethnic minorities like Mros and Diagnets who are also known as the Chakmas. This bias of the Special Rapporteur indeed encourages terrorism which the UN Security Council has been grappling with and indeed, causes serious damage to the suffering of the Rohingyas. That Rohingya armed groups does exist like the ethnic armed groups cannot be denied.
The 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council session begins on 11 September 2017 and it remains to be seen whether the UN takes any action.