UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution strongly condemning rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minority groups in Myanmar, including arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and deaths in detention.
In a 134-9 vote with 28 abstentions on Friday, the body approved 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 the states of Rakhine, Kachin and Shan. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they often reflect world opinion.
Myanmar, where most citizens are Buddhist, has long considered the Rohingya to be “Bengalis” from Bangladesh even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Nearly all Rohingya have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering the group stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.
The Rohingya crisis exploded in August 2017, when Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine State in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group. The campaign led to an exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh and to accusations that security forces had committed mass rapes and killings and burned thousands of homes.
Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, U 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 and refused to recognize government efforts to address the challenges.
The resolution, the ambassador said, “will sow seeds of distrust and will create further polarization of different communities in the region.”“
The resolution raised alarm at the continuing influx of Rohingya Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh over the last four decades. The displaced now number 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 cited an independent international fact-finding mission’s documentation “of gross human rights violations and abuses suffered by Rohingya Muslims and other minorities” by 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 people in Rakhine State continue to be subjected to abuses by the military and security forces.
The resolution also called for Myanmar’s forces to protect all people, and for urgent steps to ensure punishment for rights violations.
It also urged the government “to expedite efforts to eliminate statelessness and the systematic and institutionalized 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 because of the absence of these conditions.