UN urges end to Myanmar military campaign in Rakhine

UN Secretary-General requested to appoint special envoy to Myanmar

A view of the assembly, during the Pledging Conference for the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 23 October 2017. Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA-EFE

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UN member-states on Thursday urged Myanmar authorities to end a military campaign against the Muslim Rohingya in a resolution adopted despite opposition from China, Russia and some regional neighbours. The General Assembly’s human rights committee overwhelmingly endorsed the measure presented by Muslim countries by a vote of 135 to 10, with 26 countries abstaining.

UN member-states said they were “highly alarmed” by the violence and “further alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by the Myanmar forces” against the Rohingya. The resolution drafted by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on the government to allow access for aid workers, ensure the return of all refugees and grant full citizenship rights to the Rohingya. It requested that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoint a special envoy to Myanmar.

Addressing the committee, Saudi Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi said the resolution backed a solution that recognizes the “legitimate rights of Muslim citizens” in Myanmar. Aside from Russia and China, Cambodia, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam voted against the measure as did Syria, Zimbabwe and Belarus, along with Myanmar. The non-binding measure now goes to the full assembly for debate next month.

More than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled the mainly Buddhist country since the military operation was launched in Rakhine in late August. Myanmar authorities insist the campaign was aimed at rooting out Rohingya terrorists who attacked police posts on August 25 but the United Nations has said the violence amounted to ethnic cleansing. Myanmar’s Ambassador Hau Do Suan said his government was “making positive efforts to ease the situation” in Rakhine state, which he said was now “stable.”



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