December 28, 2019

UN General Assembly votes to condemn human rights abuses of Myanmar's Rohingya

ABC News

Photo: A woman reacts as Rohingya refugees wait to receive aid in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh in September 2017. (Reuters: Cathal McNaughton, file)
The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution strongly condemning human rights abuses against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims and other minorities, including arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and deaths in detention. 

The 193-member world 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.

General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has long considered the Rohingya to be "Bengalis" from Bangladesh even though their families have lived in the country for generations. 

Key points:

  • Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rape, killings, and home burnings
  • The Buddhist-majority country considers Rohingyas to be Bengalis from Bangladesh
  • The resolution called on Myanmar to eliminate statelessness and for an end to hostilities
Photo: More than a million Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh since 2017. (AP: Bernat Armangue, file)

Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

The long-simmering Rohingya crisis reached a flash point 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 insurgent group.

The campaign led to the mass Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh and to accusations that security forces committed mass rapes and killings and burned thousands of homes.
Photo: In this screenshot from a video, fires occur in Gawdu Zara village, northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. (AP, file)

In November, Gambia filed a case at the International Court of Justice alleging Myanmar was responsible for genocide, which includes "killing, causing serious bodily and mental harm, inflicting conditions that are calculated to bring about physical destruction, imposing measures to prevent births, and forcible transfers" against the minority.

It said these alleged actions were "genocidal in character because they are intended to destroy the Rohingya group in whole or in part".

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which not only prohibits states from committing genocide but also compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi defended her country against the allegations at the court earlier this month, and said Rohingya were caught up in an armed internal conflict.

Myanmar's UN ambassador, Hau Do Suan, called the UN 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".
Almost 1.1 million Rohingya have fled since 2017
Photo: Escaping Rohingya have alleged that security forces were responsible for mass rapes, killings and house burnings. (AP: Bernat Armangue, file)

The resolution expresses alarm at the continuing influx of Rohingya Muslims to neighbouring Bangladesh over the last four decades, now numbering almost 1.1 million, including 744,000 who arrived since August 2017 "in the aftermath of atrocities committed by the security and armed forces of Myanmar".
The assembly 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.

It reiterated "deep distress at reports that unarmed individuals in Rakhine state have been and continue to be subjected to the excessive use of forces and violations of international human rights law, international humanitarian law by the military and security and armed forces."

And it called for Myanmar's forces to protect all people, and for urgent steps to ensure justice for all rights violations.

The resolution also urged the Government "to expedite efforts to eliminate statelessness and the systematic and institutionalised discrimination" against the Rohingya and other minorities, to dismantle camps for Rohingyas and others displaced in Rakhine, and "to create the conditions necessary for the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of all refugees, including Rohingya Muslim refugees."

It noted that the Rohingya have twice refused to return to Myanmar from Bangladesh because of the absence of these conditions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.