Philippines votes vs UN resolution on rights situation in Myanmar

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Philippines votes vs UN resolution on rights situation in Myanmar

Rohingya Muslims, who travelled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stretch their arms out to collect food items distributed by aid agencies near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh on Sept. 18, 2017. Bangladesh has been overwhelmed with more than 400,000 Rohingya who fled their homes in the last three weeks amid a crisis the U.N. describes as ethnic cleansing. Refugee camps were already beyond capacity and new arrivals were staying in schools or huddling in makeshift settlements. AP/Dar Yasin, file

MANILA, Philippines (Corrected, 3:26 p.m.) – The Philippines was among five nations that rejected a resolution by the United Nations' human rights body on the human rights situation in Myanmar.
The Philippines joined Burundi, China, Cuba and Venezuela in opposing a UN Human Rights Council resolution to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for another year and to call for the safe return of displaced residents.
The resolution also calls on the government of Myanmar to lift the curfew in Rakhine State and "ensure freedom of movement and the safety and security of all persons
without discrimination, to grant and facilitate immediate, safe and unhindered and sustained humanitarian access to United Nations agencies and their partners, and other domestic and international non-governmental organizations."
The resolution was adopted during the UNHRC session in Geneva, Switzerland last Friday with 32 countries voting in favor, ten abstentions and five nations against.
In its explanation of its vote, the Philippines said it had been following the developments of the "complex" inter-communal issue in northern Rakhine State, which includes the positive developments.
The UNHRC resolution also recognizes efforts by the Myanmar government to prepare for the voluntary return of Rohingya refugees and "the admission by the Myanmar military for the first time of the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya villagers in Inn Din village, northern Rakhine State." 
The Philippines cited that although it condemns the acts of violence, it is "not supporting the international fact-finding mission as it rested on the wrong assumption that domestic investigative processes were not independent and credible."
It however, said that it supports the provision of humanitarian assistance and urge the international community to further assist Myanmar and its neighbor Bangladesh.
The resolution strongly condemns the "reported widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations and abuses committed in Rakhine State since 25 August 2017."
It also "expresses its deepest concern about the disproportionate response of the military and the security forces and deplores the serious deterioration of the security, human rights and humanitarian situation, [and] the exodus of almost 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh."
The UNHRC and nations in favor of the resolution are calling for a full and independent probe of reports of systematic human rights violations and abuses as reported
by several UN bodies including the HRC independent international fact-finding mission.
The resolution also requested the special rapporteur to present a progress report in its future sessions. 

How the Philippines voted in the past

In November 2017, the Philippines also voted against the draft resolution of a UN General Assembly committee draft resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar. 
The draft resolution urged Myanmar to end its military campaign against Rohingya Muslims living in its Rakhine state.
The draft resolution also called on Myanmar to grant full citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims as they are treated as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The Philippines was then among the ten nations that voted against the draft resolution, which earned 135 votes in favor and 26 abstentions.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano justified the country's vote saying he thinks the issue is being “politicized.”
Cayetano said the options of the Philippines were "no" and "abstain" because, as chairman of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations, the country wanted member nations to resolve issues among themselves.
"I can assure all of you, our heart goes out to those affected, we are doing what we can to help them," Cayetano said in November.
"We don't just look at the title. If we think the issue is being politicized, we don't support it," he said.
The Foreign Affairs chief said then that the Philippines wants Myanmar to quickly exert efforts to return the situation to normal and undertake earnest talks with Bangladesh, where displaced Rohingyas have been staying, to stop violence on all sides.
He noted there were many acts of violence "left and right."
In September 2017, Malaysia disassociated itself from a statement on the situation in Myanmar that Cayetano made as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The statement, issued on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, condemned attacks against Myanmar security forces and acts of violence "which resulted in loss of civilian lives, destruction of homes and displacement of thousands." It also expressed support for Myanmar's government "in its effort to bring peace, stability, rule of law" in the area.
"The Foreign Ministers acknowledged that the situation in Rakhine State is a complex inter-communal issue with deep historical roots. They strongly urged all the parties involved to avoid actions that will further worsen the situation on the ground," Cayetano also said then.
Malaysia's Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman, in a strongly worded disavowal, said Cayetano's statement "was not based on consensus."
"The statement (of Cayetano) also omits the Rohingyas as one of the affected communities," Aman said in a statement.
Note: An earlier version of this story listed the countries that voted against the resolution as the Philippines, Burundi, China, Cuba and Valenzuela. This has been corrected. We regret the error




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