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UN special rapporteur, barred from visiting Myanmar, coming to Bangladesh

Sofian Khan

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Myanmar, is scheduled to visit Bangladesh and Thailand from January 18, promising to fulfil her mandate even after the Burmese government’s refusal to work with the UN official.“I am determined to carry on – to the best of my ability – this very important task of helping the victims of human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, as mandated to me by the United Nations system,” Lee said, before departing on the 13-day trip, in a statement. “By not giving me access to Myanmar and  by refusing to cooperate with the mandate, my task is made that much more difficult, but I will continue to obtain first-hand accounts from victims and witnesses of human rights violations by all means possible, including by visiting neighbouring countries where some have fled,” she said.The special rapporteur will visit Bangladesh from January 18 – 24 and Thailand thereafter until January 30.In Bangladesh, Lee will visit Dhaka and refugee camps and settlements near Cox’s Bazar to meet with the refugees and community leaders. In Thailand, she will visit Bangkok, Mae Sot and Chiang Mai.“The (Myanmar) government has accused me of bias, while at the same time denying that human rights violations have taken place in Myanmar,” Lee said. “I would ask the authorities to rethink their position and to put the victims first.“I have a responsibility to speak on behalf of these victims, and I will not be deterred. This is why I am going ahead to visit neighbouring countries to reach out as far as possible to all victims and witnesses to learn of their experience.”Following her visit, the human rights expert will present a report to the Human Rights Council in March.Lee, a South Korean citizen, was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. She is independent of any government or organization and serves in her capacity.

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