Burma’s lawmakers unanimous in motion denouncing UN official’s remarks
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Burma’s lawmakers unanimous in motion denouncing UN official’s remarks

BURMA’S (Myanmar) lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously agreed on a motion to denounce the latest end-of-mission statement by a UN official during her recent visit to the country, local media reported.

The motion, brought forward the day before by National League for Democracy (NLD), came following UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Yanghee Lee’s criticisms against the government over its handling of conflicts in in the country, including the restive Rakhine state.

According to the Democratic Voice of Burma, the motion proposed by (NLD) lawmaker who proposed the motion echoed sentiments from Burma’s defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s office, which said the Special Rapporteur’s statements contained many “sweeping allegations” and a number of “factual errors”.

In a show of support to the proposal on Tuesday, State Foreign Affairs minister U Kyaw Tin was quoted by the Myanmar Times as saying that Yanghee Lee’s statements were “untrue” and “biased”, adding the UN official did not follow the code of conduct.

“(She did not follow it) especially when making public statements about allegations of human rights violations, a special rapporteur shall indicate what responses were given by the concerned state,” U Kyaw Tin said.

SEE ALSO: Burma: UN probe ‘can only aggravate’ Rakhine tension, envoys told

During a fact-finding mission last Friday, Yanghee Lee said activists and journalists in the country continue to be followed and questioned by state surveillance agents.

Lee told a news conference at the conclusion of her 12-day visit that she faced “increasing restrictions” on her access.

Lee said the government, citing security concerns, had prevented her from visiting parts of the northeast where the military is accused of abuses against civilians in its conflict with ethnic rebels.

She was also not allowed to visit three journalists detained last month by the army and charged with contacting a rebel group, despite the site of their detention being a popular tourist spot, the human rights envoy said.

Burma regularly blocks monitors and journalists from travelling to areas near the conflicts citing concerns over safety. Security officials say monitoring prominent people is a normal part of their work.

The country is also refusing entry to a separate UN fact-finding mission appointed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva to look into allegations of abuses by the security forces.

SEE ALSO: Burma vows ‘no restrictions’, escorts media to restive Rakhine 

The panel has a special focus on the western state of Rakhine, where the army led an operation late last year in response to attacks by militants caused an estimated 75,000 people Rohingya Muslims flee across the border to Bangladesh.

About 1.1 million Rohingya – who many in Burma view as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh – live are denied citizenship and face restrictions on their movements in Rakhine.

Lee visited the state and credited Burma for attempts to implement some recommendations made in March by a advisory panel led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, including the issuing of birth certificates to 20,000 children not previously registered.

Buddhist officials in Muslim-majority areas have in the past refused to draw up such documents for Rohingya newborns.

However, Lee said: “The general situation for the Rohingya has hardly improved since my last visit in January and has become further complicated in the north of Rakhine.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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