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Zimbabwe opposes UN motion to condemn Myanmar human rights abuses

28/12/2017 00:00:00
by Staff reporter
Accused... President Emmerson Mnangagwa

ZIMBABWE joined a group of countries with an ‘unpleasant’ human rights record in voting against a UN resolution condemning Myanmar’s treatment of its citizens from the Rohingya ethnic group.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been displaced from the former Burma in what human rights groups argue is a process of ethnic cleansing by President Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration.

Suu Kyi is a former democracy campaigner recognised by the international community and decorated with a Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent demand for democratic rule in the former Burma.

She relentlessly fought successive military regimes and was for over a decade confined to her home but released after international pressure. Suu Kyi, however, has remained mum on the displacements.

The UN General Assembly on Sunday urged Myanmar to end a military campaign against Muslim Rohingya and called for the appointment of a UN special envoy, despite opposition from China, Russia and some regional countries.

Zimbabwe joined China, Russia, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam joined Myanmar in voting against the measure as did Belarus and Syria.

Syria is itself in the grip of trying to put down a six year insurrection that started as part of what became known as the Arab Spring in 2011 that led to the removal of dictators in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

It was the first vote in which Zimbabwe was involved since President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power in November on the back of a military coup that forced Robert Mugabe into resigning.

Mnangagwa has been fingered as a ring-leader in the early 80s clampdown on mainly Ndebele speaking supporters of former Vice President Joshua Nkomo before his party was swallowed by Zanu PF in 1987.

Mugabe described the genocide that left no less than 20 000 people dead as a “moment of madness” and Mnangagwa has been under pressure to address the issue.

Mnangagwa’s Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri also commanded the crack military unit trained by North Korea and known as the 5th Brigade during the bloody operation.

Mnangagwa was reportedly also heavily involved in the orgy of violence that rocked Zimbabwe after Mugabe’s first round loss to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008.


Mugabe forced through a run-off from which Tsvangirai pulled out citing systematic violence and the murder of more than 300 of his supporters. Sadc later brokered a peace deal leading to the formation of a government of national unity.

The UN resolution put forward by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was adopted by a vote of 122 to 10 with 24 abstentions.

It called on the government to allow access for aid workers, ensure the return of all refugees and grant full citizenship rights to the Rohingya.

It requests that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoints a special envoy to Myanmar.

The measure was adopted by the assembly after its budget committee gave the green light to funds for the new position of UN special envoy to Myanmar.

More than 650,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled the mainly Buddhist country since the military operation was launched in Rakhine state in late August.

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