China, Russia pressured by UN over Myanmar

  • 29/12/2017
Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh.
Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh. Photo credit: Getty

The United Nations' independent investigator into human rights in Myanmar has called for international pressure on China and Russia to try to get them to oppose human rights abuses in Myanmar.

Yanghee Lee, who was last week barred by the Myanmar government from visiting the country , singled out China and Russia because they had failed to back some moves in the UN aimed at trying to halt the Myanmar military's crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim community.

"I'd like to ask the international community to continue to work with China and Russia to persuade them to stand on the side of human rights," Mr Lee said.

Neither has joined the United States, the European Union, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in condemning the crackdown that has led to the exodus of what aid agencies estimate to be 655,000 refugees into Bangladesh.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that "external actors" adding pressure over human rights will not help to resolve the issue, and may make it more complicated.

This would not be in the interests of Myanmar, its neighbours or the international community, she said.

"We hope that countries or individuals external to the issue can create a positive environment that is more conducive to Myanmar resolving the issue for themselves," she added.

The Russian government has previously warned against interfering in Myanmar's internal affairs.

Russia's ambassador to Myanmar, Nikolay Listopadov has said it is "against excessive intervention, because it won't lead to any constructive results."

The Myanmar armed forces are accused by members of the Rohingya community and human rights advocates of carrying out killings, rapes and village burnings, in what top officials in the United Nations and United States have described as ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar has denied human rights abuses, saying its military is engaged in a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

Mr Lee said there had to be a fair, partial and independent investigation.

"The families of the victims have a right to know what happened, and I think the people of Myanmar need to know what happened, because we're seeing, in front of our eyes, the worst humanitarian crisis."

Reuters

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