UN expert says Mynamar government employs starvation policy in Rakhine

Photo of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee gives her report next to the Chairperson of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Marzuki Darusman, during the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Mar 12, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 13 March 2018
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UN expert says Mynamar government employs starvation policy in Rakhine

GENEVA: The Myanmarese government appears to be pursuing a policy of starvation in Rakhine state to force out the remaining Muslim Rohingya population, a UN investigator said on Monday.
The military has also started new offensives in Kachin and Kayin states, Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Lee said atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority “bear the hallmarks of genocide.” She called for the council to set up an entity in Bangladesh, where more than 650,000 Rohingya have fled, to collect evidence for potential trials.
Myanmar’s envoy Htin Lynn rejected Lee’s remarks and called for the council to fire her.
Lee said the violence in Rakhine had eclipsed anything seen in recent years in Myanmar, where the government has also fought insurgents in Shan, Kayin and Kachin states.
She had received information that the military mounted new ground offensives last week using heavy artillery in Kachin’s gold and amber-mining area of Tanai.
Myanmar’s military had also advanced into Mutraw District in Kayin State, an area controlled by the Karen National Union, despite a cease-fire agreement, she said.
“This cease-fire violation led to 1,500 villagers from 15 villages having to flee. I am very concerned about these continuing offensives; the path to peace is through inclusive political dialogue, and not through military force,” she said.
In Rakhine state, Myanmar appeared to be pursuing a policy of forced starvation to make life there unsustainable for the Rohingya, Lee said.
Marzuki Darusman, chairman of a fact-finding mission on Myanmar set up by the council, said his team had received a flood of allegations against the security forces in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan and elsewhere.
“All the information collected by the Fact-Finding Mission so far further points to violence of an extremely cruel nature, including against women,” he said.
“The Fact-Finding Mission has met with women who showed fresh and deep bite marks on their faces and bodies sustained during acts of sexual violence.”
Myanmar’s ambassador Lynn did not respond to the criticism in detail but told the council it was wrong to assert that Myanmar’s leadership remained indifferent to the allegations.
“Our leadership and the government shall never tolerate such crimes. We are ready to take action, where there is the evidence,” he said.


Macron’s ratings fall further after month of protests

Updated 16 December 2018
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Macron’s ratings fall further after month of protests

  • Many of the protesters have targeted Macron personally, calling on him to resign
  • Until last week, a clear majority of French people had backed the protests, which sprung up initially over high taxes

PARIS: A month of “yellow vest” protests have taken a further toll on the popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron, a new poll showed Sunday, with analysts saying he will be forced to change his style of governing.
Around 66,000 protesters turned out again on Saturday on the fifth round of anti-government demonstrations, which sprung up over diesel taxes last month.
The figure was about half the number of the previous weekend, suggesting momentum was waning and the most acute political crisis of Macron’s 19-month presidency was coming to an end.
“It is calming down, but what remains of it all is a strong feeling of hatred toward Macron,” said veteran sociologist Herve Le Bras from the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS).
A major poll by the Ifop group published in Journal du Dimanche newspaper showed Macron’s approval had slipped another two points in the last month, to 23 percent.
The proportion of people who declared themselves “very dissatisfied” by his leadership jumped by six points to 45 percent.
Many of the protesters have targeted Macron personally, calling on him to resign or targeting his background as an investment banker and alleged elitism.
A different poll by Ipsos on Wednesday last week showed that a mere 20 percent of respondents were happy with his presidency, a fall of six points to its lowest ever level.
Le Bras said the protests had underlined the depth of dislike for Macron’s personality and style of governing, which critics see as arrogant and too distant.
“Even by being more humble, it’s going to be complicated,” he added.

Until last week, a clear majority of French people had backed the protests, which sprung up initially over high taxes before snowballing into a wider opposition front against Macron.
In a bid to end the standoff, he announced a package of measures for low-income workers on Monday in a televised address, estimated by economists to cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion).
The 40-year-old also acknowledged widespread animosity toward him and came close to apologizing for a series of verbal gaffes seen as dismissive of the poor or jobless.
Two polls published last Tuesday — in the wake of Macron’s concessions — suggested the country was now broadly 50-50 on whether the protests should continue.
“It’s a movement that has succeeded in forcing back what looked like a strong government,” Jerome Sainte-Marie, a public opinion expert at the Pollingvox group, told AFP.
“People have confidence in themselves now, so things won’t return to how they were on November 15” before the protests started, he said.
“The context in which Emmanuel Macron holds power has changed,” he added.
The former investment banker had until now styled himself as a determined pro-business reformer who would not yield to pressure from protests like his predecessors.
“Macron has given an indication that he is more open to dialogue,” Jean-Daniel Levy from the Harris Interactiv polling group told AFP.
The government has announced a six-month consultation with civil society groups, mayors, businesses and the “yellow vests” to discuss tax and other economic reforms.
Hikes in petrol and diesel taxes, as well as tougher emissions controls on old vehicles — justified on the grounds of environmental protection — were what sparked the “yellow vest” movement.
Macron “won’t necessarily change the overall course of his reforms, rather the way he carries them out,” Levy added.

In Paris on Saturday, the more than 8,000 police on duty easily outnumbered the 2,200 protesters counted by local authorities.
There were 168 arrests by early evening, far fewer than the 1,000 or so of last Saturday.
Tear gas was occasionally fired, but only a fraction compared with the weekends of December 8 or December 1 when graffiti was daubed on the Arc de Triomphe in scenes that shocked France.
Richard Ferrand, the head of the National Assembly, welcomed the “necessary” weakening of “yellow vest” rallies on Saturday, adding that “there had been a massive response to their demands.”
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner also called on protesters to halt their blockades across the country which have seen traffic and businesses disrupted.
“Everyone’s safety has to become the rule again,” he said in a tweet.
“Dialogue now needs to unite all those who want to transform France.”
He said eight people had died since the start of the movement.
Around 69,000 security forces were mobilized across France on Saturday, down from 89,000 the weekend before when 2,000 people were detained.