Kenya declined to vote either for or against a proposal on the United Nations adopting resolution condemning Myanmar‘s human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims, Kahawa Tungu has learnt.
In the vote that was conducted on December 27, 2019, the UN approved the resolution that includes condemning arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and deaths in detention of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in the Southeast Asian nation
The 193-member world body voted 134-9 with 28 abstentions in favour of the resolution.
Other African countries that abstained include Eritrea, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Cameroom and Central African Republic.
Zimbabwe is the only African country that voted against the initiative. Others are China, Belarus, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philipines, Russia, Lao PDR and Vietnam.
Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Ethiopia and South Africa are among countries in Africa that voted to pass the resolution that also calls on Myanmar’s government to take urgent measures to combat incitement of hatred against the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states.
It’s not clear why Kenya abstained on an initiative many believe will help bring to end years of injustice targeted at the Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.
Reports indicate that the long-simmering Rohingya crisis exploded on August 25, 2017, when Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group. The campaign led to the mass Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh and to accusations that security forces committed mass rapes and killings and burned thousands of homes.
More than 740,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh since the brutal crackdown.
The resolution called for an immediate cessation of fighting and hostilities.
On cases of abuse inflicted by security forces on Rohingya Muslims and other minorities, the UN assembly called for Myanmar’s forces to protect all people, and for urgent steps to ensure justice for all rights violations.
However, Hau Do Suan, Myanmar’s UN ambassador, took issue with the resolution by the assembly saying it will exert unwanted pressure on Myanmar hence sow seeds of distrust that will create further polarization of different communities in the region.
General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but play a key role in reflecting the world opinion on sensitive matters such as abuse on human rights.
In the past, Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has come out strongly to defend the country’s military during an appearance at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The Nobel peace prize laureate denied allegations the army had executed civilians and said the situation in Rakhine state was “complicated and not easy to fathom” adding that disproportionate force may have been used and civilians killed but maintained that the acts did not constitute genocide.