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03:37 21 January 2017

U.N. rights envoy warns Myanmar over Rohingya issue

YANGON, Jan. 21, Kyodo

The U.N. Human Rights envoy to Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said Friday the country's government would lose credibility if it continues to defend the reported human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims.

Speaking at a press briefing held in Yangon at the end of her 12-day visit to the country, Lee said the Myanmar government helmed by its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi would "appear less and less credible" if it continues being defensive in response to allegations of persistently reported serious human rights violations.

Widespread reports of security forces committing atrocities against Rohingya Muslims who live in northern Rakhine State have emerged as the military conducts operations in the area following the October attacks, raiding Muslim villages to search for the culprits and recover lost arms.

But the government has been persistently denying virtually all the reports as fabricated news, while preventing the media and international observers from accessing the area.

Lee said the government's current response to all of these problems seems to be to defend, dismiss and deny, which is not only counterproductive but also drains away optimism in the country.

==Kyodo

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