UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
17 July 2023
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, as represented by the National Unity Government, welcomes the adoption of the resolution on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, as well as the much-needed attention given to the Rohingya throughout HRC53. The National Unity Government recognises the Rohingya people as an integral part of Myanmar and as nationals.
The resolution, however, falls short in significant ways. Firstly, it fails to adequately address the illegal military junta’s persecution of minorities, including the Rohingya. In addition to its widespread atrocities, the junta continues to attack and kill high-profile Rohingya individuals and their relatives in targeted reprisals, including for supporting the Spring Revolution. The junta also denies the existence of the Rohingya identity. These issues receive no direct address in the text.
Cyclone Mocha, which the resolution only touches on lightlHy, is also emblematic of the junta’s sustained weaponization of aid for military gain, with minorities again bearing the brunt. While the Head of the UN Country Team in Myanmar has labelled the junta’s post-cyclone blocking of humanitarian assistance to Rakhine State as “unfathomable” and “devastating”, the resolution calls on “Myanmar” to ‘allow the full, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel to all areas’, including Rakhine.
The resolution is also dangerous in urging that Myanmar ‘immediately commence’ the repatriation of all forcibly displaced Rohingya Muslims and other minorities from Bangladesh. While the resolution clarifies that such repatriation must be voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable, it fails to acknowledge High Commissioner Türk’s assertion that these conditions “are still non-existent” or Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews’ call on Bangladesh to immediately suspend a pilot repatriation project because Rohingya refugees would ‘face serious risks to their lives and liberty’ from the junta if they are returned. UN entities in Myanmar must respect these findings, despite being called on by the resolution to support and ‘expedite’ returns.
Furthermore, the resolution has missed an opportunity to uphold non-refoulement by requesting that States protect Myanmar nationals within their borders, including the Rohingya and other minorities.
Myanmar, as represented by the National Unity Government, supports High Commissioner Türk’s position that Rohingya returns to their homes and communities in Rakhine “must only take place with their fully informed and truly voluntary choice” and when “conditions for safe, sustainable, and dignified returns to Myanmar are in place”.
Further to its ‘Policy Position on the Rohingya in Rakhine State’, the National Unity Government remains committed to creating these conditions, to addressing the root causes of the Rohingya crisis, and to securing justice for the Rohingya. The newly appointed Deputy Minister of Human Rights will lead these efforts and will work across ministries to ensure that the Rohingya’s perspectives and concerns inform the development and review of government policies and programs.
Myanmar also urges UN Member States to increase their contributions to the Humanitarian Crisis Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya in Bangladesh and to partner with the National Unity Government and ethnic organizations to upscale humanitarian assistance to all Myanmar communities in need through established ethnic and civil society networks.
Finally, Myanmar repeats its call on UN Members States to individually and collectively take action to stop the junta’s capacity to wage war on the people. As Special Rapporteur Andrews told the Council, the junta must be “disabused of any notion that time is on its side, that it need only wait out a fickle and distracted world.” It must be stripped of weapons, cash and legitimacy.