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UN condemns Myanmar’s abuse of Rohingya

31st Jan 2020
UN condemns Myanmar’s abuse of Rohingya

Rohingya refugees in refugee camp in Bangladesh, 2017 (Photo: Zlatica Hoke/VOA)

Nadine Osman

The UN approved a resolution condemning human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar on December 27. The resolution comes a month before the UN’s International Court of Justice ruled on a request for emergency measures in a genocide case against Myanmar. Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, travelled to The Hague in December to defend her country against the charges and to argue the court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who once championed in the West for her decades-long fight for democracy for Myanmar, said Myanmar did investigate and prosecute soldiers and officers accused of crimes. The General Assembly approved the resolution which demands Myanmar’s Government to combat incitement of hatred against the Rohingya and other minorities in the states of Rakhine, Kachin and Shan.


Despite living in the country for generations, Buddhist majority Myanmar considers the Rohingya Bangladeshi. The Rohingya have been denied citizenship (rendering them stateless), freedom of movement and other basic rights since 1982.

The decades’ long Rohingya crisis flared in August 2017, when the military launched “a clearance campaign” in Rakhine in response to an attack by an insurgent group. The campaign led to an exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh, the refugees arrived with testimonies of killings, mass rapes and burned thousands of homes by security forces.

U Hau Do Suan, Myanmar’s Ambassador to the UN, called the resolution – which passed with a 134-9 vote (and 28 abstentions) – a “discriminatory application of human rights norms designed to exert unwanted political pressure on Myanmar.”

He also slammed the resolution for failing to find a solution to the complex crises and for not recognising the challenges faced by his Government. He argued the resolution would only create “distrust” and “further polarization of different communities in the region.”

The resolution raised alarm at the continuing influx of Rohingya Muslims into neighbouring Bangladesh over the last four decades. The displaced now number 1.1 million, including 744,000 who arrived since 2017 ‘in the aftermath of atrocities committed by the security and armed forces of Myanmar.’

The Assembly also cited an independent international fact-finding mission’s conclusion ‘of gross human rights violations and abuses suffered by Rohingya Muslims and other minorities’ by security forces, which the mission said, ‘amount to the gravest crimes under international law.’

The resolution called for an immediate stop of fighting. It reiterated, ‘deep distress’ that unarmed people in Rakhine State continue to be subjected to abuses by the military and security forces. The resolution also called for the country’s forces to protect all people, and for urgent punishment for rights violations.

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