Rakhine protests after UN passes resolution on Burma

Rakhine community from Maungdaw protested today at noon after the United Nations General Assembly’s human rights committee adopted a resolution on November 21 urging Burma to allow its persecuted Rohingya minority “equal access to full citizenship to allow self-identification and ensure equal access to services, according to Halim, a Human Rights Watchdog from Maungdaw.
There are more than 200 Rakhine community from Maungdaw hold placards which had written “No Rohingya”, “No UN”, and others. They started from Myoma monastery and rallied the town main road with shouting, Halim said.

The Rakhine community from Arakan State and its parliament criticized UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his use of the word “Rohingya” during his most recent visit to Burma. “According to our existing laws, there are no people in our country called Rohingya and he is the head of the United Nations, he should be careful when he uses this word,” said Aung Myat Kyaw, a lawmaker representing the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP).

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed the UN’s known position on referring to ethnic minorities in accordance with how they self-identify. The term – “Rohingya” known in the United Nations and in much of the international community-the United Nations uses that word based on the rights of minorities.”

The resolution was adopted by consensus in the General Assembly’s rights committee following some wrangling with countries from the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which had sought stronger language, according to AFP report from United States.

Burmese 1.3 million Rohingya have been denied citizenship and have almost no rights. Under a controversial government-backed plan, the Rohingya would be forced to identify themselves as Bengali—a term seen as disparaging—in order to apply for citizenship.

Those who refuse would be forced to live in camps where 140,000 people live in squalid camps after violence erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012.

The resolution expresses “serious concern” over the plight of the Rohingya in Arakan state and urges the Burmese government to protect the rights of all inhabitants of Arakan state.

Burmese ambassador on November 21 said that language in the resolution referring to “attacks against Muslims and other religious minorities” are misleading and can only contribute to inciting hatred.

Burmese representative opposed the use of term “Rohingya” in the Resolution and warned use of the word by the United Nations will draw strong resentment from the people of Burma, making the government’s effort more difficult in addressing this issue.

Despite criticism of the Rohingya’s treatment, the resolution welcomes “continued positive developments in Burma” toward reform and notes that the government is making efforts to address the “complex situation in Arakan state.”

It calls for an office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to open “without delay” in Burma.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on human rights in Burma on 21 November 2014. Welcoming the resolution, United Kingdom Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said: “I very much welcome the resolution on the human rights situation in Burma which was again agreed by consensus at the UN General Assembly. The international community has again demonstrated its shared commitment to promoting and protecting the human rights of the Burmese people. I also welcome the constructive engagement of the Burmese Government in the negotiation process. The year ahead promises to be a pivotal one in Burma’s transition. The resolution rightly identifies the progress made by the Burmese government, but clearly sets out those areas where improvements to human rights and freedoms are needed if that transition is ultimately to be judged successful. In particular, in this critical year, the Burmese government must ensure credible and inclusive elections, release all remaining political prisoners and take action to address the situation in Rakhine State.”

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