Fri, Jan 23, 2015 - Page 6 News List

UN rights boss criticizes ‘sexist’ Burmese monk

‘INSULTING’:Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said instead of attacking Lee Yang-hee, religious and political leaders should tackle the substance of concerns she has raised


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein sharply criticized a prominent Burmese monk on Wednesday for what he said were sexist and abusive public comments about a UN special rapporteur.

According to the Web site of Irrawaddy magazine, Buddhist monk U Wirathu condemned UN human rights rapporteur Lee Yang-hee at a public rally on Friday last week held to denounce a UN General Assembly vote calling for the minority Rohingya Muslims to be granted citizenship in Myanmar.

“Just because you hold a position in the United Nations doesn’t make you an honorable woman. In our country, you are just a whore,” Wirathu told a cheering crowd of several hundred people in Yangon.

“Can this bitch really be from a respectable background?” Irrawaddy quoted Wirathu as saying in the speech, which was posted on YouTube by the Democratic Voice of Burma.

Al-Hussein condemned the remarks.

“The sexist, insulting language used against the UN’s independent human rights expert on Myanmar ... by an influential monk during Ms Lee’s official visit to the country is utterly unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “It is intolerable for UN special rapporteurs to be treated in this way, and I call on religious and political leaders in Myanmar to unequivocally condemn all forms of incitement to hatred, including this abhorrent public personal attack against a UN-appointed expert.”

He added that instead of attacking Lee, religious and political leaders in Myanmar should tackle the substance of concerns she has raised.

Another prominent monk on Tuesday said that Wirathu had violated his monastic code and could damage his religion, but was unlikely to face censure.

Lee, a South Korean, visited Myanmar earlier this month to assess the human rights situation there.

In her latest annual report last year, Lee said that “the Rohingya community continues to face systematic discrimination.”

She said abuses suffered by the Rohingya include executions, torture, forced labor, displacements and rape.

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions in Rakhine State in the predominantly Buddhist nation. Almost 140,000 Rohingya remain displaced after deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

The Burmese government says it should no longer be subjected to special scrutiny by UN rights bodies. Its UN mission did not respond to a request for comment.

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