The UN General Assembly (UNGA) approved a resolution on Friday strongly condemning human rights abuses against Myanmar’s Rohingya and other minorities, including arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and deaths in detention.
The 193-member body voted 134-9 with 28 abstentions in favour of the resolution, which also calls on Myanmar’s government to take urgent measures to combat incitement of hatred against the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states.
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UNGA resolutions are not legally binding but they reflect world opinion.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar has long considered the Rohingya to be “Bengalis” from Bangladesh, in spite of their families having lived in the country for generations.
Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless; they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.
The long-simmering Rohingya crisis exploded on August 25, 2017, when Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine in response to an attack by a Rohingya armed group.
The campaign led to a mass exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh, and accusations that security forces committed mass rapes and killings and burned thousands of homes.
‘Seeds of distrust’
Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Hau Do Suan called the resolution “another classic example of double-standards (and) selective and discriminatory application of human rights norms” designed “to exert unwanted political pressure on Myanmar.”
He said the resolution did not attempt to find a solution to the complex situation in Rakhine state and refused to recognise government efforts to address the challenges.
The resolution, the ambassador said, “will sow seeds of distrust and will create further polarisation of different communities in the region.”
The resolution expresses alarm at the continuing influx of Rohingya to neighbouring Bangladesh over the last four decades, now numbering 1.1 million including 744,000 who arrived since August 2017, “ïn the aftermath of atrocities committed by the security and armed forces of Myanmar.”
The UNGA also expressed alarm at an independent international fact-finding mission’s findings “of gross human rights violations and abuses suffered by Rohingya Muslims and other minorities” by the security forces, which the mission said “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.”
The resolution called for an immediate cessation of fighting and hostilities.
Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu-kyi has defended the military action in Rakhine state during her appearance at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, while denying the “genocidal intent” of the state against the Rohingya.