UN investigators ask for ‘full’ access to Myanmar
GENEVAU.N. human rights investigators yesterday said they needed "full and unfettered" access to Myanmar to investigate a grave and ongoing crisis, but the government renewed its rejection of the probe.
“It is important for us to see with our own eyes the sites of these alleged violations", the head of U.N.-backed fact-finding mission, Marzuki Darusman, told the Human Rights Council, asking for "full and unfettered access to the country."
"There is a grave humanitarian crisis underway that requires urgent attention", he added.
The council set up the mission in March to investigate possible violations across Myanmar, with a particular focus on alleged crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.
Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly denounced the U.N. probe as unhelpful and vowed that her government would not cooperate with it.
Suu Kyi earlier yesterday delivered a nationally televised address on the Rohingya crisis, appealing for outside observers to visit Myanmar and see the situation for themselves.
Though an estimated 421,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in less than a month as their villages burned and hundreds were killed, Suu Kyi said the “great majority” of Muslims within the conflict zone stayed and that “more than 50 percent of their villages were intact.”
Suui Kyi’s first address to the nation since the violence erupted came days after she canceled plans to attend the U.N. General Assembly, a decision widely seen as a response to international criticism.
Suu Kyi said anyone found to have broken the law would be punished. “Human rights violations and all other acts that impair stability and harmony and undermine the rule of law will be addressed in accordance with strict laws and justice,” she said.
The attacks on Rohingya villages in the last month appear to many to have been a systematic effort to drive them out. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described it as ethnic cleansing.
Suu Kyi said that those who fled to Bangladesh would be allowed to return if they passed a “verification” process.
Though fires have continued to flare in recent days in northern Rakhine state, she said “there have been no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations” for the past two weeks.
“Nevertheless we are concerned to hear that numbers of Muslims are fleeing across the border to Bangladesh,” she said. “We want to understand why this exodus is happening.”