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Sunday 19 January 2020

UN condemns human rights abuses against Burma’s Rohingya Muslims

The UN General Assembly voted 134-9 in favour of the resolution.

Members of the Myanmar Muslims community hold portraits of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi (Thein Zaw/AP)
Members of the Myanmar Muslims community hold portraits of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi (Thein Zaw/AP)

By Edith M Lederer, Associated Press

The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution strongly condemning human rights abuses against Burma’s Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.

The 193-member world body voted 134-9 with 28 abstentions in favour of the resolution which also calls on Burma’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 but they do reflect world opinion.

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

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 exploded in August 2017 when Burma’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group.

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The UN has condemned the human rights abuses against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

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.

Burma’s UN ambassador 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 Muslims to neighbouring Bangladesh over the last four decades, now numbering 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 also called for an immediate cessation of fighting and hostilities.

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