The New Delhi based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has called for the removal of Professor Yanghee Lee as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for blatant violations of the “5/2. Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council”. The open letter addressed to the President of the UN Human Rights Council,H.E. Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli , is reproduced below in full.
‘The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) is writing to seek your interventions for the removal of Professor Yanghee Lee as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for blatant violations of the “5/2. Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council”, in particular, Article 3 - General principles of conduct and Your Excellency’s recent action with respect to the Chairperson of the Fact Finding Missions on Myanmar. While grave human rights violations in Myanmar must be addressed, the same must not be undermined by the bias of the Special Rapporteur.
Your Excellency is fully aware “universality, impartiality, objectivity, and non-selectivity, and the elimination of double standards and politicization” are non-negotiable cornerstones for functioning of the UN Human Rights Council and its mechanisms including the Special Procedures. Once these principles are blatantly violated by a particular mandate holder, continuation becomes untenable.
In this regard, kindly allow the ACHR highlight the standard set by Your Excellency with respect to former Chairperson of the Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar Ms Indira Jaisingh and the need to uphold the same standard with respect to the on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Professor Yanghee Lee.
1. Standard set by Your Excellency with respect to the Chairperson of the Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar
The Human Rights Council through its resolution A/HRC/RES/34/22 dated 24 March 2017 decided to dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State.
On 30 May 2017, Your Excellency had appointed Ms. Indira Jaising to serve as Chair of the Fact Finding Mission.
A copy of the Your Excellency’s Statement is appended as Annex-I.
On 27 July 2017, Your Excellency announced new composition of the Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar and appointed Mr. Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia) to serve as a member and Chair instead of Ms Jaisingh.
A copy of the Your Excellency’s Statement is appended as Annex-II.
Though Your Excellency had not provided any reason for the removal of Ms Indira Jaisingh, a U.N. official told Reuters “Jaising agreed to step down after the council president raised concerns about public comments she made that could be seen as indicating bias.” Ms Jaisingh in an interview to Al Jazeera said, “The situation of the Rohingya community in Myanmar is especially deplorable because they face the risk of a genocide.”
A copy the news story, New chairman appointed to U.N. mission probing Myanmar abuses, of Reuters dated 27 July 2017 is appended as Annex-III.
A copy of the news story, UN appoints team to probe crackdown against Rohingyas, of Aljazeera dated 30.05.2017 that carried the interview of Ms Jaisingh is appended as Annex-IV.
2. The case for removal of UN SR on Myanmar based on the standard set by Your Excellency with respect to Chairperson of the Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar
Asian Centre for Human Rights request Your Excellency and the Human Rights Council to examine the blatant violations of the “universality, impartiality, objectivity, and non-selectivity, and the elimination of double standards and politicization” by the UNSR on Myanmar as highlighted below:
2.1. Failure to name and condemn the armed opposition groups of the Rohingyas for killing of ethnic Mros on 3 August 2017
On 3 August 2017, six Mro villagers were killed by the Rohingya armed opposition groups in Rakhine state of Myanmar. It was widely reported that the ethnic Mros who are indigenous peoples and distinctly different from the ethnic Rakhine were killed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
A copy of the press report is appended as Annex-V.
On 11 August 2017, Prof Lee issued a statement calling upon the Myanmar Government to “must ensure that security forces exercise restraint in all circumstances and respect human rights in addressing the security situation in Rakhine State”. She further stated, “There have been increasing reports of incidents affecting the local population, including the killings of six Mro villagers on 3 August…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.”
Please refer to Annex-VIII for the statement.
It is deeply regrettable that the Special Rapporteur failed to name even the armed opposition groups for the killing of the ethnic Mros. Her statement was so ambiguous that it is impossible to identify whether the ethnic Mros were killed by the Myanmarese government forces or the armed opposition groups.
2.2. Failure to name the communities attacked by the armed opposition groups of the Rohingyas since 25th August 2017
This failure to condemn the perpetrators not only emboldened the armed opposition groups.
Asian Centre for Human Rights believes that the failure on the part of Professor Yanghee Lee to condemn the Rohingya armed group the killing of six Mros on 3rd August 2017 led to the killing of five ethnic Daingnets on 26 August near Kyaungdoe village in Rakhine state and another seven Mro ethnic people during an attack on Khon-Taing Village in Maungtaw Township on 28 August.
Asian Centre for Human Rights sent a communication to the Special Rapporteur on 28th August 2017 requesting specific public statement against the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) for the attacks on ethnic and religious minorities in Rakhine province of Myanmar and other issues related to the Rohingya crisis.
A copy of ACHR’s email is appended as Annex-VI.
Special Rapporteur Lee issued a statement on 31 August 2017 expressing “alarm at the deteriorating situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, affecting not just the Rakhine and Muslim populations but also other communities.”
The failure to name “other communities” i.e. Daignets and Mros is part of the de-recognition of the violations on the ethnic minorities by the Special Rapporteur to highlight only the grave human rights violations on the Rohingyas.
2.3. The pattern of failure to name the armed opposition groups of the Rohingyas by the Special Rapporteur
The following are statements of facts:
On 9 October 2016, the members of the armed opposition groups launched a surprise attack on the No.1 Border Guard Police Command Headquarters (Kyikanpyin), police outpost at Kotankauk and the Ngakhuya local administrative office. In that incident, 9 policemen were killed and 48 assorted arms, 6624 bullets, 47 bayonets, and 164 bullet cartridges seized by the armed opposition groups.
On 25 August 2017, members of the armed opposition groups belonging to the Rohingya community launched sneak attacks on 30 police outposts in Maungtaw, Buthidaung and Yathedaung townships as well as against the Regiment Headquarters in Taungthazar village. The Government of Myanmar stated that 10 police officers, one soldier and one immigration officer were killed while nine security officers and a number of civilians were wounded; and six firearms were lost.
Yet, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Professor Yanghee Lee has intentionally and purposely failed to name the armed groups formed by members of the Rohingya community in her statements.’