South Africa decides against condemning crimes against Rohingya

On Friday, a UN committee approved a draft resolution condemning the continuing “gross human rights violations and abuses” against Rohingya Muslims. Bangladesh, which has given refuge to approximately 1.1 million Rohingyas, voted in favour. The resolution expresses deep concern that violence by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya has forced over 723,000 to flee to Bangladesh since August 2017. While 142 countries voted in favour of the resolution, just 10 voted against it. South Africa abstained. 

The resolution, sponsored by the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the European Union and Canada, expresses “deep distress” of ongoing violations against the Rohingya, including killing, torture and rape. 

Several African countries, including Namibia, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Cameroon also abstained, while Zimbabwe voted against it.

Myanmar’s neighbours China, Cambodia and Laos and Russia voted against the measure.

India abstained, while Bangladesh, which has given refuge to approximately 1.1 million Rohingyas, voted in favour. Myanmar’s UN ambassador, Hau Do Suan, called the resolution “politically motivated, one-sided and discriminatory.”

South Africa’s abstention is not altogether surprising given the country’s close ties with China, a key ally to Myanmar. Since the crisis began, South Africa’s response has been very meek.

SA needs a stronger stance on the Rohingya Crisis

But the draft resolution now goes to a final vote in December which means that South Africa can change their stance and vote.

Perhaps South Africans need to make it known how they want it to go.

 

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