Muslim countries push UN to speak out on Myanmar abuses


Rohingya refugees wait to get relief goods in Ukhiya, Coxsbazar, Bangladesh, 10 October 2017. Photo: Abir Abdullah/EPA-EFF

Muslim countries led by Saudi Arabia want the United Nations to denounce serious rights abuses in Myanmar and demand an end to the military campaign against the Rohingya, according to a draft resolution seen by AFP on Wednesday.

In one of the worst refugee crises in decades, more than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled an army crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state since late August.

The draft resolution introduced this week to the General Assembly's human rights committee said UN member-states were "highly alarmed" by the outbreak of violence and "further alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by the Myanmar forces" against the Rohingya.

The non-binding measure is expected to come up for a vote in the committee around November 14 and be discussed in the assembly a month later.

Drafted by the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the proposed resolution marks the return of Myanmar to the rights agenda at the United Nations after a one-year break.

Last year, the European Union decided against presenting a measure criticizing Myanmar's rights record for the first time in 15 years after recognizing progress under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Together with a separate draft resolution now before the Security Council, the measure reflects growing impatience with the Myanmar authorities as the Rohingya continue to flee across the border to Bangladesh.

Diplomats, however, say China -- a supporter of Myanmar's former ruling junta -- is resisting a push by Britain and France for a council response to the crisis.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has called for an end to the attacks, is expected to press for action when he joins leaders of the Southeast Asian (ASEAN) bloc at a summit in the Philippines next week.

Myanmar's government says its operations are aimed at rooting out Rohingya terrorists who staged attacks on police posts in late August.

The draft resolution calls on Myanmar authorities "to end the ongoing military operations" that have "led to the systematic violations and abuse of human rights of persons belonging to the Rohingya community."

It calls on the government to allow access for aid workers to Rakhine state, ensure the return of all refugees and grant full citizenship rights to the Rohingya.

© AFP

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