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Myanmar: UN rights expert condemns senseless killing of respected Muslim Lawyer Ko Ni

GENEVA (30 January 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, today strongly condemned the brutal murder of Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim lawyer and constitutional law expert, who was also the legal adviser to the National League for Democracy (NLD). Ms. Lee called on the Government to openly condemn this act and to carry out a proper effective impartial investigation into the killing.

Mr. Ko Ni was shot and killed outside Yangon Airport on Sunday after returning from Indonesia where he had been part of a Government-led delegation attending an interfaith study tour. A suspect has been arrested.

“This appears to be another shocking example of a reprisal against those speaking out on behalf of the rights of others,” the expert said, recalling her recent end of visit statement, where she highlighted her concern at the increasing risks faced by human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and others working on sensitive issues.

“I am shocked to the core by the senseless killing of a highly respected and knowledgeable individual, whom I have met during all of my visits to the country, including most recently just over a week ago,” Ms. Lee said. She expressed her sincerest condolences to his family, and the family of taxi driver Nay Win killed in the same incident after he bravely attempted to apprehend the gunman. 

The Special Rapporteur underlined that, “U Ko Ni’s passing is a tremendous loss to human rights defenders and for Myanmar. The State Counsellor and the NLD-led Government must get to the bottom of this senseless act, and give answers to his family and to us all.”

“This act was also an act of violence against children. It was committed while U Ko Ni was holding his grandchild, exposing the child to witness one of the most horrific acts of violence,” Ms. Lee emphasized.

While noting that no motive had yet been established, the human rights expert called for “everyone in Myanmar to refrain from actions that could excite negative emotions and to join together to counter hate and violence whatever its form.”

Professor Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Lee is currently serving as the Chairperson of the Coordinating Committee of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Myanmar

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Azwa Petra (+41 22 928 9103 / apetra@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

You can access this press release online

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