The United Nations Security Council held its first closed-door briefing on the human rights situation in Myanmar on 28 May to examine the issues faced by the country’s Rohingya minority, according to United States and council diplomats.
U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein briefed the council via video link and presented the dire situation and “institutional discrimination” faced by the Rohingya in their own country.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power called the meeting a “historic first” for the 15-nation body, described the conditions for Rohingyas as “troubling and inhumane.”
Power also reportedly said at the meeting that “while much progress has been made in Myanmar, some are using newfound freedoms to organise hatred, foment violence, and facilitate the persecution of vulnerable Rohingya”.
However, not all nations viewed the U.N. meeting positively. Russia had said that the U.N. Security Council is not appropriate for forum for human rights. China also said that the Rohingya situation was an internal matter for Myanmar, although it expressed concern about the situation.
Rohingya refugees recently came under international spotlight, as thousands of them fleeing sectarian violence and persecution in Myanmar became stranded on boats at sea, but were denied aid and access my neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.
While at sea, they were often abused by smugglers and not given adequate food and water, with many dying before reaching land.
Malaysia and Indonesia have lately decided to allow the migrants to shore, on condition that international agencies provide aid to resettle them within a year.
More than 3,000 migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh have landed in Indonesia and Malaysia in recent weeks, but thousands are still believed to be adrift at sea.
The Myanmar government regards most Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They enjoy few rights and have suffered violence from members of the Buddhist majority over the past few years, living in apartheid-like conditions in Rakhine state.
Adapted from media reports.