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China does not want UN to pressure Burma on accountability

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ma Zhaoxu, speaks during a UN Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on 14 April 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

China does not want the UN Security Council to tell Burma that credible, transparent investigations into accusations of violence against mainly Rohingya Muslims are important, according to proposed amendments to a British-drafted statement.

The 15-member Security Council is trying to negotiate a press statement following a visit by UN envoys to Bangladesh and Burma last week to see firsthand the aftermath of a Burmese military crackdown that Britain, the United States and others have denounced as ethnic cleansing of the minority Rohingya.

Britain wanted the council to state “the importance of undertaking credible and transparent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses and violations” and “continue to support efforts to ensure justice and accountability.”

Its draft statement would also “urge the government of Myanmar to fulfill urgently its stated commitment to holding accountable perpetrators of violence, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children.”

However, Burma’s ally China deleted those references in amendments it has proposed to that statement, which must be agreed by consensus. China also proposed welcoming “the efforts taken by the government of Myanmar to improve the situation in Rakhine” State.

Diplomats said negotiations were continuing.

Rohingya insurgent attacks on security posts in Rakhine in August sparked a military operation that has sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Security Council envoys visited those vast camps last week.

They also met with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and traveled to Rakhine State, where the violence erupted. Burma denies the accusations of ethnic cleansing.

Fleeing refugees have reported killings, rapes and arson on a large scale. Burma has said its operations in Rakhine were a legitimate response to attacks on security forces by Rohingya insurgents.

Last week Burmese military chief Min Aung Hlaing told Security Council envoys, during a two-hour meeting in Naypyidaw, the country’s capital, that fewer than 2,000 troops were involved in the military operation, according to diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has asked the court to rule on whether it has jurisdiction over the deportations of Rohingya to Bangladesh, a possible crime against humanity.

Suu Kyi’s government has expressed “serious concern” over the move at the ICC. Bangladesh is a member of the ICC but Burma is not. Rights groups have called on the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution referring the situation in Burma to the court.