[Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré]
11 August 2017 – A United Nations human rights expert has expressed alarm over reports that an army battalion has flown into Rakhine state in western Myanmar to help local authorities boost security in the region.
“This development, which reportedly took place yesterday, is a cause for major concern,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, in a press release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“The Government must ensure that security forces exercise restraint in all circumstances and respect human rights in addressing the security situation in Rakhine state,” she added.
In Kachin and Rakhine states, some 100,000 and 120,000 people, respectively, have remained displaced for more than five years following the eruption of inter-communal conflict between Buddhists and minority Muslim Rohingya.
The Special Rapporteur acknowledged the State’s responsibility to provide security and protect people from attacks by extremists, but said this responsibility had to cover all residents, and the authorities could not afford more security to some than others.
Ms. Lee recalled 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,” she said. “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 expert stressed that the use of force must always be in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality to ensure full respect for human lives.
The expert’s call has been endorsed by the UN the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.