RANGOON — UN Special Rapporteur to Burma Yanghee Lee said her tour of northern Arakan State was “very useful” despite a number of “hitches” as she wrapped up her four-day visit to assess the human rights situation in the conflict-torn area.
“I was granted full access without security to most of the places I asked for,” she told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, adding that there were a couple of places she was not granted access to.
In a meeting with the state chief minister U Nyi Pu last week, Ms. Lee and her team had stressed that to fulfill their mandate they wanted to freely visit Arakan State, also known as Rakhine.
After coordinated attacks on border guard posts in October last year, Burma Army “clearance operations” in northern Arakan have been accompanied by allegations of human rights abuses of the Muslim Rohingya minority and sent 65,000 northern Arakan State residents across the border to Bangladesh, according to the UN.
Ms. Lee began her trip to Arakan State last Friday and visited the Muslim area of Aung Mingalar in state capital Sittwe, according to state media. Over the weekend and on Monday she met with officers at police posts that had been attacked on or since Oct. 9.
The rapporteur also visited a number of Rohingya villages in Buthidaung, Maungdaw, and Rathedaung townships—visits by foreign visitors are rarely granted to the area, which has been under military lockdown since October 2016.
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