A United Nations human rights expert today strongly condemned the brutal murder of a respected Muslim lawyer and constitutional law expert in Myanmar, who was also the legal adviser to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD).
“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,” the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said.
U 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, according to a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“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.
A suspect has been arrested. Ms. Lee called on the Government to openly condemn this act and to carry out a proper effective impartial investigation into the killing.
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.”
“This appears to be another shocking example of a reprisal against those speaking out on behalf of the rights of others,” said Ms. Lee, who has recently conducted a 12-day visit to the Southeast Asian country. In her end-of-visit statement, she highlighted her concern at the increasing risks faced by human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and others working on sensitive issues.
“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,” the Special Rapporteur said.