Bangladesh ‘deeply disappointed’ as UN resolution on Myanmar shuns Rohingya

Bangladesh has abstained from voting on the United Nations resolution on the situation in Myanmar following a coup, expressing “deep disappointment” because it has “failed to address” the plight of the Rohingya.

Published : 19 June 2021, 06:27 PM
Updated : 19 June 2021, 06:56 PM

The foreign ministry clarified the government’s position on the resolution in a statement on Saturday, a day after the country’s permanent representative to the UN said any resolution on Myanmar will remain “incomplete” if it doesn’t recognise the root causes of the Rohingya crisis and make concrete recommendations to address them.

“Failure of the international community to address those root causes, even after the ethnic cleansing in 2017, has led to a culture of impunity in Myanmar, and we can see that playing out now for other minorities as well,” Rabab Fatima said at the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Bangladesh hosts more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims who fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar following decades of persecution and a brutal military crackdown described by the UN as “ethnic cleansing”.

The resolution did not include any recommendations or actions on the repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar. Neither does it recognise or stress the need for creating an environment in Rakhine conducive to the safe, sustainable and dignified return of the refugees, the foreign ministry said in the statement.

“The resolution also lacks determination to address root causes of the Rohingya crisis through collective means.”

The UNGA on Friday sought to ostracise Myanmar’s ruling generals with an emphatic rebuke, demanding they end the five-month-old military takeover, stop killing opponents and free imprisoned civilian leaders.

The 193-member body also called for an arms embargo on Myanmar and requested unimpeded humanitarian access to stop the country’s slide into poverty, dysfunction and despair.

The adoption of a resolution containing these demands by a vote of 119-1, with 36 abstentions and 37 members not voting, was not the overwhelming consensus its drafters had originally sought. But it still represented the most widespread condemnation yet of the Myanmar military commanders who seized total control in a Feb 1 coup and have basically ignored all efforts to restore that country’s fragile democracy.

Citing historians, The New York Times reported it was only the fourth time since the end of the Cold War that the General Assembly had passed a resolution condemning a military coup, and was a rare occasion in which the body also called for an arms embargo.

The yes votes included one from Myanmar’s ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, who speaks for the country’s deposed civilian government and has defied junta orders to resign.

The lone no vote was cast by Belarus, which has itself been widely criticised for severe repression of internal dissent.

Perhaps more surprising was the abstention by China, Myanmar’s giant neighbour, which has extensive investments in the country and has taken subtle steps suggesting it could accept the junta’s legitimacy, the Times said.

China has objected to similar versions of the General Assembly resolution in the more powerful Security Council, where China wields a veto as a permanent member. The 15-member council has taken no decisive action on the Myanmar coup, which has led to widespread frustration among many UN diplomats and rights groups.

“We have also been encouraged to see precise Press Elements of the Security Council and the PRST, which recognises the impacts of the coup on the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims and other displaced minorities,” Fatima said.

“It is, therefore, disappointing to see that the General Assembly is deviating from this trend in this very important resolution acted upon today. This would send a wrong message.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher