YANGON (AFP) – Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside an airport in restive western Myanmar on Thursday in protest against a planned human rights visit by a United Nations envoy, police said.
Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, was due to arrive in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, which has seen deadly spates of sectarian violence between majority Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya in recent years.
In August 2013 a previous UN rights envoy was forced to abandon plans to visit Rohingya displaced by a spate of anti-Muslim violence in the town of Meiktila, central Myanmar, when his convoy came under attack by an angry mob.
Lee’s visit comes days after the UN adopted a resolution urging Myanmar to grant citizenship to the minority group, viewed by the state as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants with restrictions placed on their movement, marriages and economic opportunities.
“About 1,000 residents have been gathering since this morning to protest against the UN Special Rapporteur,” a police officer in Sittwe told AFP, withholding his name.