UN ‘strongly condemns’ violence against Rohingya Muslims

By: Madeleine Keck - Posted on: November 7, 2017 | Current Affairs

This is the toughest council statement the UN has made on Myanmar in almost 10 years and indicates global distress over the Rohingya crisis is at an all time high

Rohingya children stand behind a bamboo fence and wait to get into the queue to collect lunch in a camp in Palonkhali, Coxsbazar, Bangladesh. Abir Abdullah/EPA

The United Nations Security Council unanimously issued a presidential statement on Monday strongly condemning the extensive violence occurring in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, and calling on the Burmese government to end the use of extreme military force in the region.

The presidential statement echoed previously issued warnings, including calling on the government to guarantee no further use of excessive armed violence, to reinstate civilian administration, to allow refugees to return, and to take immediate steps that were in agreement with their requirements and commitments to respect human rights.

“The Security Council strongly condemns the widespread violence that has taken place in Rakhine State, Myanmar, since 25 August, which has led to the mass displacement of more than 607,000 individuals, the vast majority belonging to the Rohingya community,” said the statement, read out by Sebastiano Cardi of Italy, the President of the Security Council for the month of November.

The 15-member council further demanded that the government must work to tackle the origins of the conflict by permitting “equal access to full citizenship” and allowing total entry for humanitarian aid and media access into Rakhine. The statement also requires U.N Secretary general Antonio Guterres to report back to the Council within 30 days on Myanmar’s development in adopting the Council’s calls.

The statement, whilst still a significant step, does not carry the weight or power of a Security Council resolution in diplomatic influence. A resolution had previously been opposed by China – a neighbour and ally to Myanmar with veto power over the council – despite persistence from Western nations.

It is, however, a move above the Council’s formerly released press statement in September.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador, Hau Do Suan, had expressed concern that the statement is not binding and holds no disciplinary actions, such as sanctions.

“[The statement] will not help our efforts for solving the issue, rather [it will] lead to further polarization and escalation of tensions among different religious communities in the country and beyond.”

However, Bangladeshi Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, expressed his thanks to the council, stating “it will be quite reassuring for the Rohingyas … that the council remains engaged with their prolonged suffering, insecurity and uncertainty.”

Despite mixed responses, the statement signifies the toughest council assertion on Myanmar in almost 10 years, and indicates global distress over the Rohingya, who remain a stateless group in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where violence has forced more than 600,000 to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

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