By Corina Oliquino
FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA – The Philippines and China were the only two countries to vote against a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution to end human rights abuses on Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar by supporting justice and accountability for refugees who fled atrocities committed by state security forces in Rakhine State.
The UNHRC on its official Twitter account said the resolution, adopted during the 42nd regular session in Geneva, Switzerland on September 26 urged the Myanmar Government to “sustain democratic transition by bringing all national institutions, including the military, under a democratically elected civilian government.”
In a report by ABS-CBN News and Reuters, a total of 37 member states supported the six-page resolution while seven other countries, including Angola, Cameroon, Congo, India, Japan, Nepal and Ukraine, abstained.
The resolution also urges 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, while also expressing grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, including against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.”
The abuses include “arbitrary arrests, torture, forced labor, socio-economic exploitation, the forced displacement of more than a million Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh, sexual and gender-based violence against women and children, among others, with the UN urging 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.”
The right thing to do
In a report by The Philippine Star, in March, the Philippines along with Cuba and China voted against the resolution at the UNHRC.
In November 2017, Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippines’ abstention on a similar resolution at the UN General Assembly would be the “right thing to do in deference to the Muslim and non-Muslim member states of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).”
Locsin noted a yes vote would be “divisive and would kill ASEAN.”
Meanwhile, a report from the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar last week found that the 600,000 Rohingya Muslims who stayed in the country continue to live under threat of genocide.
“Myanmar should turn to the international community for assistance, and the international community should continue to provide its support for genuine efforts to address impunity and to promote justice in Myanmar,” the report read.
Duterte offered Filipino citizenship to Rohingya refugees
In another report by GMA News, President Rodrigo Duterte offered Filipino citizenship to Rohingya refugees last February “to reiterate his willingness to accept them into the country.”
“I am willing to accept Rohingyas. ‘Yung talagang walang mapuntahan tatanggapin ko ‘yan, gawain kong Pilipino,” he said in a speech before a convention of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel.
Moreover, Duterte’s genocide claim against Myanmar last April 2018 earned the ire of Myanmar as they asked Duterte to “shut his mouth for knowing nothing about their country.”
Duterte later apologized to Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for saying genocide was taking place in her country, clarifying that he was “hitting out at European countries which accused Myanmar of human rights violations but did little to help Rohingya Muslims.”