May 8, 2018 / 7:58 PM / 17 days ago

China does not want U.N. to push Myanmar on accountability

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China does not want the U.N. Security Council to tell Myanmar that credible, transparent investigations into accusations of violence against mainly Rohingya Muslims are important, according to proposed amendments to a British-drafted statement.

Rohingya refugees line the streets as United Nations Security Council convoy passes by, outside Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, April 29, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Fogarty

The 15-member Security Council is trying to negotiate a press statement following a visit by U.N. envoys to Bangladesh and Myanmar last week to see firsthand the aftermath of a Myanmar 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 fulfil urgently its stated commitment to holding accountable perpetrators of violence, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children.”

United Nations Security Council envoys arrive at Cox's Bazar airport in Bangladesh, April 28, 2018. REUTERS/Michelle Nichols

However, Myanmar 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.

United Nations Security Council envoys pose for a photograph with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after their meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Michelle Nichols

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 Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and travelled to Rakhine state, where the violence erupted. Myanmar denies the accusations of ethnic cleansing.

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

Myanmar military chief Min Aung Hlaing told Security Council envoys, during a two-hour meeting in Naypyitaw, the country’s capital, last week, that less 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 Rohingyas 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 Myanmar is not. Rights groups have called on the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution referring the situation in Myanmar to the court.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Clive McKeef

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