China and Russia backed Myanmar while India and Japan abstained from voting on an UN resolution about the human rights situation of Rohingya minorities in Myanmar .
The adoption of the resolution by the UN General Assembly was considered a success for Bangladesh.
China, Russia, Belarus, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and Myanmar themselves were the nine countries that voted against the resolution, in Myanmar’s favour.
India has recently engaged with Myanmar at every level, including the highest level of the civilian government and the highest level of military establishment in the State of Rakhine, where they made their position clear.
Japanese Ambassador Ito Naoki said they are communicating directly with Myanmar’s top military officials and at the government level on the Rohingya crisis as Japan seeks a proper role to end the crisis.
A total of 26 countries, including India, Japan, Sri Lanka and Singapore, abstained from voting on the resolution on the situation of human rights of Rohingya minorities in Myanmar.
The resolution was placed before the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations on Thursday.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday said,“Those countries could play a better role which voted against the resolution. We don’t have any displeasure against them.”
“It’s a strategic decision. We’re happy with the results,” Momen told reporters at his office, adding that a total of 132 countries voted in favour of the resolution.
Dr Momen said Bangladesh will not hold it against any country which voted against the resolution or abstained from voting.
“We’re happy that they talked to us before the decision,” Dr Momen said explaining why the countries wanted to remain neutral in the UN to use their leverage on Myanmar in finding the solution. He meant countries like India and Japan.
China is trying to work with Myanmar and Bangladesh to find a solution through tripartite discussions.
Dr Momen said the Rohingya issue remains a big challenge and expressed his optimism over resumption of the repatriation process in this year. “It’s our expectation.”
B’desh Foreign Minister said he wrote to his counterpart at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Myanmar on January 1 touching on all aspects of the problem.
“I’ve conveyed to my counterpart in Myanmar that we want the process to start. You repeatedly told us that you will take them back after verification and provide safety and security. It’s our demand that you will provide it what you promised,” he said, adding that creating a conducive environment for voluntary repatriation has to be in place as promised.
He said Myanmar is a friendly country and Bangladesh is trying to solve the Rohingya issue through discussion with Myanmar bilaterally apart from exploring other ways.
Dr Momen said they see some changes in Myanmar’s attitude.
Responding to a question, the Foreign Minister said China is trying to discuss the issue through a trilateral mechanism with Myanmar and Bangladesh. “We’re ready. We’ll join once a date is fixed for the next round of discussions.”
He said Bangladesh also requested Japan as they have leverage on Myanmar. “Japan assured us of extending their help. We’re yet to take a decision on how the framework will be designed.”
Dr Momen said there has been no progress from the Myanmar side so far, but he expects Myanmar to keep its word.
Historically, he said, Myanmar kept their words as he referred to the progress in 1978 and 1992. “It’s our belief and expectation that Myanmar will take back their nations though the figure is big compared to the past.”
Bangladesh thinks Rohingyas will “jeopardise regional and international security” if the 1.1 million Rohingya people are left unattended and not given the opportunity to return to their homeland.
“Development is not possible without peace,” he mentioned.
Myanmar did not take back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last three years but Myanmar, in its attempts to “mislead” the international community, claimed that a total of 397 displaced people have voluntarily returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar.
Two repatriation attempts turned futile as Myanmar “failed to remove trust deficit” among the Rohingyas and there was “lack of conducive environment” in Rakhine for their return.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.
On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.
More than three years back, Myanmar’s soldiers “targeted, killed, and raped” Rohingya and burned their villages, as the United Nations, Refugees International, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. State Department itself, and many others have documented.
Over 800,000 Rohingyas fled the “genocidal violence” and Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas.
Bangladesh says the Rohingyas do not trust their government and Bangladesh gave a number of proposals to build trust among them. Myanmar did not say no to those proposals, but no proposal was implemented.
Bangladesh is trying in multiple ways — bilaterally, multilaterally, trilateral and through the judicial system – to find a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis.
Bangladesh proposed deployment of non-military civilian observers from Myanmar’s friendly countries Japan, China, Russia, India and ASEAN countries. Myanmar said nothing on that particular proposal.