A UN General Assembly committee approved a draft resolution on Tuesday strongly condemning the Myanmar government's crackdown on peaceful protesters and calling on the military junta to immediately release those recently arrested and all political prisoners.
The vote in the assembly's human rights committee was 88-24 with 66 abstentions. The resolution now needs the backing of the 192-nation world body. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion.
The draft resolution calls on Myanmar's military government "to desist from further arrests and violence against peaceful protestors" and to lift "all restraints on the peaceful political activity of all persons by ... guaranteeing freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of opinion and expression."
It also calls on the junta to provide UN special adviser Ibrahim Gambari with unrestricted access to all parties, including ethnic minority representatives, student leaders and dissident monks, and to engage with him to achieve "effective progress towards the restoration of democracy and the protection of human rights in Myanmar."
Gambari, who visited Myanmar from November 3-8, said last week he was making progress in nudging Myanmar's military junta towards meaningful dialogue with the pro-democracy opposition. But he acknowledged there were "serious concerns" about "the willingness of the government to move forward in a new direction."
Myanmar tried to block a vote on the draft resolution, proposing a motion of "no action" instead. It was defeated by a vote of 88 against to 54 in favour, with 34 abstentions.