UN resolution on Myanmar: Abstention from voting doesn’t mean opposing Bangladesh, Japan says

The General Assembly’s Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, voted 135 in favour and 10 against, with 26 abstentions on the draft text on Thursday that calls on Myanmar to end military operations that have “led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights” of Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state.

Japan and India were among the key friends of Bangladesh that stayed away from the voting. Some in Bangladesh viewed this as their stance against Bangladesh.

“It’s not true,” the Japanese foreign ministry’s Deputy Press Secretary Toshihide Ando told reporters in Dhaka, replying to a question, on Sunday.

Ando is in Dhaka with Foreign Minister Tarō Kōno who met his Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali early Sunday before both of them left for Cox’s Bazar to visit Rohingya camps.

The deputy press secretary said Japan supports Bangladesh’s efforts in resolving the crisis and expanded humanitarian assistance by $18.6 million to $23.6 million.

He said Japan’s position is clear on the issue and they had already explained why they remained absent during the voting.

He said they shared their views that “further fact-finding would be needed in the Rakhine state”.

“We think such fact-finding would not be effective unless it is undertaken in the manner acceptable to the government of Myanmar.”

Ando said Japan’s comments on the draft resolution were not reflected in the final resolution which was adopted.

He said Japan earlier strongly condemned the August 25 attack carried out by armed groups against the security forces, and the acts of violence against civilians.

Japan also expressed its concern over the human rights and humanitarian situation after the attack.

During the meeting between the two foreign ministers, Kono praised Bangladesh’s efforts to respond to humanitarian needs caused by the influx of Myanmar nationals, Ando said.

Kono also conveyed that Japan also supports Bangladesh’s efforts for lasting solution, including the repatriation of displaced persons, he said.

Kono thoroughly explained to Ali Japan’s response in the international arena and its efforts to appeal to Myanmar for action.

 “Consolidation” of Japan-Bangladesh relations under the “comprehensive partnership” was also discussed during the meeting.

 The Japanese foreign minister also discussed the North Korea issue as they support increased pressure on Pyongyang.

 Meanwhile, a Bangladesh foreign ministry official told bdnews24.com that India also conveyed before the adopting of the resolution that it would stay away from the voting.

One of the key reasons of India’s abstention was that the resolution was moved by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation or OIC.

India has reservation on OIC-moved resolutions as the Islamic countries’ grouping earlier adopted resolutions on Kashmir in favour of Pakistan.

India also conveyed that it never voted in any country-specific resolution in the UN, except one in favour of Palestine.

 For 15 years, the UN Third Committee has annually adopted a resolution condemning Myanmar’s human rights record, but last year the European Union did not put forward a draft text, citing progress under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.

However, in the past three months more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh after the Myanmar military began an operation against Rohingya militants, who attacked 30 security posts and an army base in Rakhine on Aug 25.