UN condemns human rights abuses against Myanmar's Rohingya

UNITED NATIONS • The United Nations General Assembly 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 world body on Friday voted 134 to nine, 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.

UN General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they do reflect world opinion.

Buddhist-majority 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 on Aug 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 a mass Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh and to accusations that security forces committed mass rapes and killings and burned thousands of homes.

Myanmar'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 that 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 expresses alarm at the continuing influx of Rohingya Muslims to neighbouring Bangladesh over the past four decades. The number has reached 1.1 million, including 744,000 who have 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" - inflicted by the security forces - which the mission said "undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law".

  • 134-9 How the UN General Assembly voted in favour of the resolution. There were 28 abstentions.

The resolution called for an immediate cessation of fighting and hostilities.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 29, 2019, with the headline 'UN condemns human rights abuses against Myanmar's Rohingya'. Subscribe