UN General Assembly voices concern for Myanmar's Muslims

UNITED NATIONS Tue Dec 25, 2012 3:42pm IST

A woman displaced by the recent violence in Pauktaw passes the time at Owntaw refugee camp for Muslims outside Sittwe early November 1, 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/Files

A woman displaced by the recent violence in Pauktaw passes the time at Owntaw refugee camp for Muslims outside Sittwe early November 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun/Files

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly expressed serious concern on Monday over violence between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar and called upon its government to address reports of human rights abuses by some authorities.

The 193-nation General Assembly approved by consensus a non-binding resolution, which Myanmar said last month contained a "litany of sweeping allegations, accuracies of which have yet to be verified."

Outbreaks of violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingyas have killed dozens and displaced thousands since June. Rights groups also have accused Myanmar security forces of killing, raping and arresting Rohingyas after the riots. Myanmar said it exercised "maximum restraint" to quell the violence.

The unanimously adopted U.N. resolution "expressing particular concern about the situation of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state, urges the government to take action to bring about an improvement in their situation and to protect all their human rights, including their right to a nationality."

At least 800,000 Muslim Rohingyas live in Rakhine State along the western coast of Myanmar, also known as Burma. But Buddhist Rakhines and other Burmese view them as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh who deserve neither rights nor sympathy.

The resolution adopted on Monday is identical to one approved last month by the General Assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human rights. After that vote, Myanmar's mission to the United Nations said that it accepted the resolution but objected to the Rohingyas being referred to as a minority.

"There has been no such ethnic group as Rohingya among the ethnic groups of Myanmar," a representative of Myanmar said at the time. "Despite this fact, the right to citizenship for any member or community has been and will never be denied if they are in line with the law of the land."

(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Paul Simao)

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