Philippines votes against UN resolution on Rohingya crisis

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Posted at Sep 28 2019 05:20 AM

Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh on March 7, 2019. Mohammad Ponir Hossain, Reuters/File

MANILA—The Philippines has voted against a United Nations (UN) resolution that seeks to end human rights abuses of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.

Only the Philippines and China opposed the resolution, which was adopted during the 42nd regular session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland Thursday.

A total of 37 member states voted in favor of the resolution, which calls upon Myanmar to ensure the protection of the human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.

Angola, Cameroon, Congo, India, Japan, Nepal and Ukraine abstained from voting.

The 6-page resolution "expresses grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, including against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities."

These include arbitrary arrests, torture, forced labor, socioeconomic exploitation, the forced displacement of more than a million Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh and sexual and gender-based violence against women and children, among others.

The resolution urges Myanmar "to take concrete steps towards the creation of a conducive environment for the voluntary safe, dignified and sustainable return of the forcibly displaced Rohingya residing in Bangladesh."

It also encourages the international community "to continue to assist Bangladesh in the provision of humanitarian assistance to forcibly displaced Rohingya Muslims and other minorities until their return to their places of origin in Myanmar."

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who remain inside Myanmar face systematic persecution and are living under the threat of genocide, a UN fact-finding mission had said.

Myanmar security forces are accused of killings, gang rape and arson during a crackdown that drove more than 730,000 people to flee western Rakhine state for neighbouring Bangladesh after attacks on police posts by Rohingya insurgents in August 2017.

Some 600,000 Rohingya are living in "deplorable" conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, subject to restrictions on movement that touch almost every aspect of their lives, the UN report said.

In Nov. 2017, the Philippines rejected a UN draft resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had said the country should have abstained from voting the draft text, which urges Myanmar to grant full citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims, who are treated by Buddhists as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

He had said that voting in favor of the draft resolution would "kill" the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where Myanmar is a member.—With a report from Reuters