Rohingya refugees at a camp in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh watch a live feed of Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi's appearance at the UN's International Court of Justice on Dec. 11. She told the UN's top court that there was no 'genocidal intent' in Myanmar's crackdown on Rohingya Muslims despite admitting that the army might have used excessive force. (Photo: AFP)
The United Nations General Assembly has expressed grave concern about continuing reports of serious rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law against the Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar. It has called on the country’s security and armed forces “to end all violence immediately and to ensure the human rights of all persons in Myanmar, including Rohingya Muslims and persons belonging to other minorities, are protected.” It also urged the independent investigation mechanism for Myanmar to advance its work swiftly and requested that the UN secretary-general extend the appointment of the special envoy on Myanmar. During the 74th session of the General Assembly at its 52nd resumed meeting on Dec. 27, the 193-member body voted 134-9 with 28 abstentions in favor of a resolution that calls on Myanmar’s government to take urgent measures to combat incitement of hatred against the Rohingya and other minorities in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states. China, the Philippines and Russia were among the nine members who opposed the resolution.
Myanmar has been facing international legal pressure over alleged atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi defended Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague on Dec. 11-12. The Gambia, a Muslim West African country, had filed a lawsuit with the ICJ on behalf of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation alleging that Myanmar breached the 1948 Genocide Convention in its treatment of Rohingya Muslims. A UN fact-finding mission has reported that “genocidal acts” carried out in Rakhine state by Myanmar’s military in 2017 resulted in more than 740,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. Ambassador hits back
Hau Do Suan, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, refuted the resolution and called it “another classic example of double standards and selective and discriminatory application of human rights considerations.” He said it grossly mischaracterized the complex issue of Rakhine state and failed to recognize the efforts of Myanmar’s people and government as they struggle with multiple challenges inherited from previous administrations. “The text will only result in greater alienation of Myanmar’s people from the international community,” he warned. He emphasized that Myanmar’s government is preparing to put suitable conditions in place for the safe and voluntary return of verified displaced people from Bangladesh. Cardinal Charles Maung Bo has called on the international community to accompany Myanmar’s fledgling democracy with understanding and advice, not condemnation. “Any international sanctions against Myanmar without consideration for the welfare of ordinary people will be a sad commentary on the world's concern for our people, and a sad commentary on the message of Christmas," he said in his Christmas message. Cardinal Bo said Myanmar is "known in the world for the wrong reasons and is being dragged to the international court. Big words are used against this country." The cardinal also called on Myanmar “to understand the world’s concerns about the suffering of people” within its borders.
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