SITTWE, Myanmar - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has arrived in the country's western Rakhine State to meet with displaced members of local Muslim communities amid ongoing and sporadic armed skirmishes between the Arakan Army and Burmese military forces, an epa journalist reports.
After landing in the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe earlier this week, Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee visited camps for Rakhine Muslims and members of the Rohingya ethnic minority facing restrictions on freedom of movement since the eruption of intercommunal violence with Buddhists in 2012.
"I come here as a true friend of the Rakhine people and I will work for change and development for each and every one in Rakhine State," said Lee from Sittwe, as cited by the Mizzima newspaper.
Lee's visit also comes just two months after a recent bout of violence between the Burmese military and the Arakan Army displaced some 1,100 people from three townships north of Sittwe, according to the Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU).
The Arakan National Party (ANP) aligned with the interests of the Buddhist Arakanese population in the conflict-torn state declined to meet with Lee, saying that she "has been constantly favoring Muslims since 2012", according to ANP chairwoman Aye Nu Sein, who added "We don't believe she will submit a fair report in Geneva even if we were to meet with her this time," reports Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Human rights advocates have long condemned Myanmar's treatment of its estimated 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, who live in squalid conditions in camps after decades of being labelled "Bengali migrants" and deprived of full citizenship rights.
"Rohingya lack freedom of movement, access to food, clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care, work opportunities, and education. They live in conditions that appear to have been calculated to bring about their destruction," reports Geneva-based Fortify Rights NGO.