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China, Russia oppose UNGA resolution

The UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution urging Myanmar to end the military campaign against Muslim Rohingyas.

It also called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to assign a special envoy to the country, despite opposition once again from China, Russia and some regional countries.

The resolution, put forward by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), was adopted by a vote of 122 to 10 with 24 abstentions.

It further called for Myanmar to grant access to aid workers, ensure the return of all refugees and give full citizenship to them.

China, Russia, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Belarus, Syria and Zimbabwe opposed the resolution.

Rohingya refugees walk on a muddy path after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Cox's Bazar, September 8, 2017. Reuters file photo

December 25 marks four months since the start of the Rohingya refugee crisis and the situation remains dire. The UN has been unable to take tougher action against Myanmar. China and Russia have both prevented the UN Security Council (UNSC) from making any decision on Myanmar to protect Rohingyas from atrocities, opposed UNSC in issuing statements and voted against adopting any resolution in the UN General Assembly.

An estimated one million forcibly displaced Myanmar citizens have been living in Bangladesh.

Only 34 percent of the $434 million needed until February 2018 to provide assistance to the 1.2 million people, including host communities in Cox's Bazar district, has been raised.

"Humanitarian partners are working round the clock to respond, but the reality remains that the needs are massive and urgent, and the gaps are wide. More funding is needed," Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, said recently.

Despite an agreement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar, more Rohingyas arrived almost every day since August 25.

Sunday's motion was passed by the 193-member General Assembly after its Fifth Committee (Budgetary Questions) approved funds for the new position of UN special envoy to Myanmar.

The United States, on December 21, imposed sanctions on 13 “serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors” including Myanmar general Maung Maung Soe, who oversaw this year's brutal crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The US government, applying penalties for the first time under a law passed last year, also targeted 39 other individuals and entities with sanctions that block their assets under US jurisdiction, bar most Americans from dealing with them and largely cut them off from the global financial system.

The military operations since August 25 “led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights” of Rohingyas in Rakhine State that forced more than 655,000 Muslim minorities to flee Myanmar and take shelter in Bangladesh.

Myanmar authorities insist the campaign was aimed at rooting out Rohingya militants who attacked police posts on August 25.

The UN, US and international right bodies have already described the Rohingyas as the most persecuted community in the world, calling the situation in Rakhine similar to “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Earlier on November 16, the General Assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, voted 135 in favour and 10 against with 26 abstentions on the draft text that also called upon U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special envoy on Myanmar.

China, Russia and eight other countries had also opposed the draft test.

For 15 years, the Third Committee annually adopted a resolution condemning Myanmar's human rights record.

The UN Security Council earlier also issued a statement calling on Myanmar to "ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine state".

Last week, the UN special rapporteur for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said she had been banned from the country and that the government had cut off all cooperation with her.

Only in its first month, the crackdown killed some 6,700 Rohingya Muslims, including more than 700 children, according to Doctors Without Borders.

UN member states said on December 5 that Myanmar was likely committing "crimes against humanity" against its Rohingya minority, while the UN rights chief voiced alarm over possible "elements of genocide".

Following a special session of the UN Human Rights Council, the nations overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution expressing grave concern over widespread abuses committed against the largely Muslim minority.

Thirty-three of the council's 47 members backed the text listing a long line of horrific abuses, including summary killings of children, rape, torture and large-scale forced displacement, which it said indicated "the very likely commission of crimes against humanity."

The resolution, brought forward by Bangladesh, also called on the government to ensure justice for victims and access for UN investigators and aid workers.

It passed by 33 votes. Nine countries, including India, refrained from voting, while three others -- China, Burundi and the Philippines -- voted against it.

Addressing the special session, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said Myanmar's security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingyas.

Earlier this month, in an interview with BBC, Zeid said he would not be surprised if a court one day ruled that acts of genocide had been committed against the Rohingya


Muslim minority in Myanmar

(c) 2017 The Daily Star

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