Myanmar authorities on Tuesday prohibited the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights to the country from visiting the towns of Laiza and Hpakant in violence-rocked Kachin state because of security concerns, a state government official said.
Instead, Yanghee Lee, who is visiting Myanmar to look at the human rights situation in volatile areas of the country, stopped at internally displaced persons camps run by the Kachin Baptist Convention near the towns of Myitkyina and Waingmaw, said Kachin state attorney general D. Sinran.
Lee met members of the Kachin state government members on Monday and discussed women’s rights and people who have been internally displaced by fighting between Myanmar soldiers and ethnic armed groups in the mountainous state on Myanmar’s border with China.
When asked by RFA’s Myanmar Service about authorities’ refusal to grant her permission to visit the two areas and any conclusions she had drawn from where she did go, Lee said: “I’m disappointed. I’m not sure yet. I have to look around more.”
On Wednesday, Lee will visit Rakhine state to probe reports of atrocities against Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar security forces amid a crackdown in the northern part of the state following deadly attacks on border guard posts last October.
Nearly 90 people have been killed in the violence, which has forced tens of thousands of Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh—about 65,000 according to the U.N.’s estimate.
Lee began her 12-day visit at the invitation of the government on Monday to visit northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, where thousands of people have been displaced by renewed fighting in a long conflict between government soldiers and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and to look into the situation in northern Rakhine.
U.N officials, including Lee, have been critical of the government’s handling of the Rakhine crisis, specifically the denial of access by independent media and international humanitarian groups to areas affected by the violence.