On Saturday morning, the UN Rapporteur set off to meet the villagers of ‘Koetankauk (Dounsay Fara) in Rathedaung Township as initially scheduled. However, the authorities took her to the village of ‘Thawan Chaung’ in southern Maungdaw bypassing ‘KoeTankauk’ (in northern Rathedaung).
She came to know she was in a wrong place when she asked the villagers of Thawan Chaung after being in the village. Angered with the accompanying authorities double-crossing her, she left the place and didn’t return to ‘KoeTankauk’ village again.
On Sunday (Jan 15) morning, she visited the violence-hit northern Maungdaw region which has been sealed off since the Myanmar military began offensives on the Rohingya civilians in the region on October 9, 2016.
Deceived by the Myanmar Authorities once earlier, she asked the authorities to stop accompanying her in northern Maungdaw and instead, she chose to visit a few Rohingya villages in the region on her own accompanied only by her interpreters.
She visited the village of Kyikanpyin (locally known as Hawar Bil) and met up with the villagers especially women. After that, she visited Wapeik (Wabek) village but couldn’t meet anyone as the village had been deserted by the villagers due to brutal operations by the Myanmar armed forces (i.e. the Military and the Border Guard Police).
Post that, she visited a few other Rohingya villages such as KyetYoePyin (Kiyari Ferang), PyaungPaik (Haant Gojja Fara), Ngakura (Nagpura) and Sinthaepyin (Haanti Fara).
During the visits by the UN Rapporteur especially without any members of Myanmar armed force accompanying her , the victims in the region were able to open up to her how the Myanmar armed forces torched their homes, unlawfully killed hundreds of innocent people, raped more than 200 women, arbitrarily arrested hundreds of civilians and plundered their properties. It has been learnt that Ms. Yanghee Lee got chance to also talk to some victim women who have become pregnant after being raped by the Myanmar forces.
Some locals in Maungdaw have raised their concerns over the possible distortions in interpretations by a female interpreter named Ms. Khet Khet that accompanied the UN Rapporteur during the visits. The interpreter is a Rakhine woman known for being an anti-Muslim racist remarks on the Rohingya during her term with UNHCR as a Community Development Facilitator in Arakan State.
Ms. Lee’s trip to assess the human rights situation in Arakan will end today and overall it could be considered successful one.