State govt bars Yanghee Lee’s visit to Hpakant and Laiza due to security concerns

EMG reporter

The Kachin State government barred the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee to Hpakant and Laiza due to security concern, sources said.

Lee arrived at Myitkyina on Monday evening and the trip was cancelled after she discussed with Colonel Thura Myo Tint, state minister for security and border affairs.

An official confirmed: “It is true that the trip was cancelled due to security concerns. She wanted to go those places as there are cases such as force labour in exchange for drugs, damaging of environment and sexual exploitation on children in Hpakant and Laiza.

“In the Myanmar community, we don’t have those kinds of morally corrupted people. There may be a few people who are corrupted. It is not true that some people gave labourers drugs instead of wages.

“We told her not to go to Hpakant due to security concerns. She asked me if it was the decision of union government or state government. I told her it was decided by the state government. She told me she want to go by helicopter. We allowed her trip to Laiza in previous week, but now security is not good. The places she wants to visit have an armed conflict.”

The meeting lasted for about two hours and the delegation met with civic organisations at the office of UNOCHA in Myitkyina. They plan to visit refugee camps in the state and civic organizations the following day.

The special rapporteur paid her first visit to refugee camps and prisons in Myitkyina and Bhamo from July 21 to 22 in 2014 but heavy rain and landslides delayed her trip. She arrived at Kachin State for the second time on June 24, 2016, and visited to Myitkyina prison, refugee camps in Kachin Baptist Church and Jarminkaung Catholic Church. She also met with Kachin civic organizations.

Translated by Aung Kyaw Kyaw