Controversy in Iran over its Absence at UN Meeting on Rohingya

Iran’s absence from a United Nations meeting to vote on condemning the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has stirred controversy in the country. Iran has once again found itself in a defensive position after it was accused of double standards in addressing the Rohingya crisis, Asharq al-Awsat reports.

The UN General Assembly on Sunday put forward a resolution, calling on Myanmar to end its crackdown against the Rohingya. The resolution, proposed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, was adopted by a vote of 122 to 10 with 24 abstentions.

Tehran rejected on Tuesday accusations against it, saying that it did not attend Sunday’s UN vote because of the “politicization” of the international organization’s human rights committee. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi blamed his country’s absence on “technical” issues, revealing that Tehran had relayed its stance on the Rohingya in a message to the UN general secretariat. The UN human rights committee had issued several resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Iran.

Qassemi’s remarks did not help resolve the controversy in Iran over the Rohingya vote and the issue made headlines across the country on Tuesday. The absence raised questions about the Iranian government’s stance on the Myanmar government and Rohingya, with media accusing Tehran of double standards. Iran enjoys trade ties with Myanmar and the government has repeatedly ignored parliament calls to sever these ties.

In an official note to the Secretariat of the United Nations, the Islamic Republic of Iran has declared its yes vote to a UN General Assembly resolution on human rights violations in Myanmar.

In a Tuesday statement, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, “In line with its principled policy of defending the rights of all Muslims across the world, particularly the oppressed Muslims of Myanmar, the Islamic Republic of Iran has sent an official note to the UN Secretariat to declare its yes vote to the [UNGA] resolution that condemns the human rights violations in Myanmar.”

Reiterating the firm stance of the Islamic Republic on protecting the displaced Muslims of Myanmar and vehemently condemning the heinous crimes committed by the Myanmar army against the Rohingya Muslims, Qassemi said Iran’s absence from the recent voting session on Myanmar’s human rights violations was due to some technical reasons.

By issuing the statement, Qassemi said, Iran stressed that its absence from the UNGA voting session “merely reflects the country’s opposition to the rejected approach of politicising human rights”, and the absence has nothing to do with the resolution’s content.

“Given the importance of defending the rights of Myanmar’s Muslims, the Islamic Republic’s macro foreign policy considerations should have been preferred to expert-level considerations [on the UNGA resolution],” Qassemi noted.

Therefore, he added, Iran sent the official note to the UN Secretariat on Tuesday to revise its earlier stance and declare its yes vote while underlining that Tehran dismisses as unacceptable any politicisation of human rights resolutions.

While Iran’s mission to the UN earlier said its absence from the UN General Assembly voting on Myanmar was to protest the Third Committee’s politicized approaches, an informed source says the absence was caused by a lack of coordination.

The informed source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Iran Front Page on Tuesday that the Iranian mission’s absence was just caused by an inconsistency and lack of coordination between the foreign ministry and the mission. The source stressed that the Islamic Republic’s policy, in this particular case, was to attend the meeting and vote for the Resolution to condemn the Myanmar government.

“However, due to the inconsistency, the Iranian mission to the UN has acted in accordance with the previous procedure given the dark record of the Third Committee,” the source added.