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UN official’s visit stirs protest in Myanmar

January 09, 2015
Sittwe (Myanmar): Demonstrators hold banners before the arrival of a UN official on Thursday.—AFP
Sittwe (Myanmar): Demonstrators hold banners before the arrival of a UN official on Thursday.—AFP

YANGON: Hundreds of demonstrators protested outside an airport in restive western Myanmar on Thursday against a human rights visit by a United Nations envoy, police said.

Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, flew into Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, on Thursday evening and was greeted by crowds of chanting, placard-waving protesters.

The state has seen spates of deadly religious violence between local ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the Muslim Rohingya minority in recent years.

In August 2013 a previous UN rights envoy was forced to abandon plans to visit Rohingya displaced by a spate of anti-Muslim violence in the town of Meiktila, central Myanmar, when his convoy came under attack by an angry mob.

Lee’s visit comes days after the UN adopted a resolution urging Myanmar to grant citizenship to the minority group, viewed by the state as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants with restrictions placed on their movement, marriages and economic opportunities.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2015

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