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7 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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UNHRC SPECIAL SESSION ON ROHINGYAS

Resolution with voting frustrates Dhaka

Position of China, Russia, India remain unchanged
HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN
Resolution with voting frustrates Dhaka

Bangladesh is frustrated that the resolution on Rohingyas at a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday was not adopted unanimously given the serious violations of human rights against persecuted community in Rakhine by Myanmar security forces. The resolution, adopted with 33 out of 47 members voting in favour, 3 including China against, 9 including India and Japan abstained from voting and 2 remaining absent, strongly condemned the alleged systematic and gross violations of human rights and abuses committed in Rakhine State, notably against persons belonging to the Rohingya Muslim community and other minorities.

The council called upon the government of Myanmar to ensure the protection of the human rights of all persons in Myanmar, including those belonging to the Rohingya Muslim community and other minorities.

It requested the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive written report on the situation, including on the level of cooperation and access given to the fact-finding mission and other United Nations human rights mechanisms, implementation of the present resolution, the findings and recommendations of the UN system on the situation of human rights of Rohingya people in Rakhine state.

The comprehensive report will also include recommendations on a future course of action, to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its 40th session, and to submit the report to the UN General Assembly for its consideration.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the session that given the alleged atrocities by Myanmar security forces, taking place of genocide may not be ruled out and access is needed to ascertain that.

Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States voted for the resolution.

Burundi, China and the Philippines voted against while Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Kenya, Mongolia, South Africa and Venezuela abstained, and Bolivia and Cuba were absent from the voting.

Speaking after the vote, the Bangladesh representative expressed frustration that the draft resolution addressing such a grave human rights and humanitarian crisis had been put to a vote.

Members of the HRC should have treated the crisis in an objective way, rather than look at it from a politicised point of view, he said, adding that it was extremely disappointing that there had to be a vote on the draft resolution whose text was objective and it encouraged Myanmar to protect the human rights of its own citizens.

Introducing the draft resolution, Bangladesh said that the text was a balanced one that highlighted the horrendous situation of the world’s most persecuted people, the Rohingya.

The draft resolution aimed to encourage the government of Myanmar to address the crisis in a constructive manner.  Bangladesh called on all member states of the council to adopt the resolution by consensus.

All the countries including those which voted against and abstained appeared to have understood the gravity of the situation, diplomatic sources have told The Independent, adding that those who voted for spoke strongly against the atrocities orchestrated by the Myanmar security forces. But, they said that some countries opted for abstention or voting against due to their economic and political interests regarding Myanmar.

“It is sad that economic interest gets better off humanity. That’s the reality we have to live with,” said a senior diplomat.

About the voting pattern, the sources said that it was in line with the voting at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, therefore it was not surprising.

About the voting of China and India, they said that for them Myanmar is geopolitically more important than Bangladesh.

“This is that simple,” said another senior diplomat.

The sources pointed out that Japan supported the Bangladesh’s request to convene the special session, but abstained in the voting. China, speaking in an explanation before the vote, said that it fully understood the challenges faced by Bangladesh, and that the bilateral negotiations between Bangladesh and Myanmar were the only solution to the crisis.

“The signing of the repatriation agreement between the two countries was an important step forward.  What was now important was to create favourable conditions and a favourable atmosphere in order to implement the agreement.  The draft resolution did not help ease the situation. On the contrary, it could complicate the implementation of the repatriation agreement,” it said.

India noted that the council should help Myanmar implement its responsibilities towards its own people.

“Bangladesh and Myanmar should implement a systematic process of verification to facilitate the repatriation of people to Myanmar. The Council had to encourage the two countries to work together to restore normalcy in Rakhine State,” it said.

Many observer countries including Russia also spoke on the occasion where they have projected the position of their countries. Russia shared concern about the crisis in Rakhine State, caused by the terrorist acts of Rohingya terrorist fighters.

It welcomed the recent stabilisation of the situation in Rakhine, and called on all sides to refrain from actions that would further destabilise it.

“That was the only way to find a solution for the Muslim minority in the country and to respond to the massive displacement of the population to neighbouring Bangladesh,” Russia said.

Moscow, however, called on the Myanmar government to establish conditions for the peaceful coexistence of all communities.

Besides, many international NGOs took part in the debate before voting.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, Catalina Aguilar Devandas, chairperson of coordinating committee of the special procedures, Marzuki Darusman, chair of the fact-finding mission on Myanmar, and Pramila Patten, special representative of the UN secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, also delivered statements at the session painting a grim picture of brutalities against Rohingya men, women and children.

Addressing the special session Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said apparently more than half the estimated number of Rohingyas living in Rakhine State has been forced to leave their homes and country.

“It is simply impossible to assess the number who have been detained, disappeared, killed or died en route,” he said.

“…Considering the recent allegations of killing by random firing of bullets, use of grenades, shooting at close range, stabbings, beatings to death, and the burning of houses with families inside; the serious bodily or mental harm inflicted on Rohingyas including children; the subjection to various forms of torture or ill-treatment, being beaten, sexually abused, raped; considering the forced displacement and systematic destruction of villages, homes, property and livelihoods; considering also that Rohingyas self-identify as a distinct ethnic group with their own language and culture, and are also deemed by the perpetrators themselves as belonging to a different national, ethnic, racial or religious group – given all of this, can anyone rule out that elements of genocide may be present?” said Zeid.

On behalf of special rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee, Catalina Aguilar Devandas, chairperson of coordinating committee of the special procedures, said there had been credible allegations of serious human rights violations and abuses committed against the Rohingya, including extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, torture and ill-treatment, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced displacement.

The coordinating committee was alarmed by the Myanmar Government’s apparent acquiescence in incitement of hatred and the condoning of intimidation and attacks against Rohingya families by other ethnic and religious groups, she said

Marzuki Darusman, chair of the fact-finding mission on Myanmar, in a video statement said that he had told the council in September that the mission would follow international best practices in human rights fact-finding, and they were doing so.

The mission had already collected significant information from outside Myanmar, he said, adding that it had conducted in-depth interviews with members of the Rohingya and other groups in the camps around Cox’s Bazar and elsewhere.

“Victims and witnesses had recounted acts of extreme brutality against the Rohingya, especially since August 2017.  The Mission had heard numerous testimonies alleging killings, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence, torture, disappearances, and arson of entire villages,” said Darusman.

Pramila Patten, special representative of the UN secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, said, “The stories heard from the Rohingya were heart-breaking and simply unimaginable, acts of unmitigated brutality against women and girls. Those acts were not random, and included rape, gang rape by multiple soldiers, forced nudity and sexual slavery and captivity by the military”.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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