The United Nation’s special human rights envoy to Myanmar says the government is barring her from visiting the country to assess the current situation in the East Asian nation.
Wednesday’s announcement by Yanghee Lee coincides with Myanmar’s military revealing the discovery of 10 bodies in a mass grave in northwestern Rakhine state, where more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims once called home before fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh to escape a brutal military offensive.
The grave was discovered Monday in the village of Inn Din. The army says it is conducting an investigation.
The South Korean-born Lee said she is “puzzled and disappointed” by the government’s decision, which gives off “a strong indication that there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine.”
Myanmar’s military has been accused of launching a scorched earth campaign back in August against Rohingya villages in response to attacks on Myanmar police outposts by Rohingya militants. Rohingya refugees have told human rights workers a host of atrocities committed by security forces, including random shootings, rapes and the burning down of homes and entire villages. Myanmar dismisses the stories as exaggerated, and the army has cleared itself of any abuses.
The United Nations has described the reported actions carried out by Myanmar forces as “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”
The Rohingya minority has been denied citizenship and other rights in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
Myanmar views the Rohingya as immigrants from Bangladesh, despite the fact that many families have lived in Myanmar for generations.