Skip to main content

Indian silence on humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Burma: Human Rights Watch plea to regional govts to support UN effort

By Our Representative
Human Rights Watch (HRW), the influential US-based elite NGO which supports large number of civil society organizations across the world, has asked South Asian countries, including India, to "work with the United Nations and others" to bring about a "binding solution" to a major humanitarian crisis caused by Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma on dangerous boats to escape persecution. India shares 1,624-km-long border with Burma, but is silent on what is happening next door.
The HRW's plea comes close on heels of criticism by India's keen media watchers over the failure to notice total indifference towards Rohingiyas, who have fled to several countries down south, especially Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. HRW's statement has been addressed to the proposed meeting of governments at Bangkok on May 29, 2015, to discuss the Southeast Asia boat people's crisis.
India has so far refrained to make any statement on the major humanitarian crisis, in which people are being detained, extorted, and abused, with mass graves found in recent weeks along the borders of Thailand and Malaysia, where they have fled. There was no reference to any initiative from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently visited China, Mongolia and South Korea, on this count, say critics.
The meeting, called jointly by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has been named "Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean". Representatives from 17 countries, of the region, including India, will participate. The meeting will also discuss Bangladeshi nationals similarly fleeing the country in the recent past.
“Regional governments should work with the UN and others to agree on binding solutions to this human tragedy – not sweep it under the rug as they have done for years,” said Brad Adams, Asia director, HRW. “The ending of human rights abuses in the source countries of Burma and Bangladesh needs to be matched by Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with support from other countries."
HRW said, "Over the past 15 months, international agencies estimate that as many as 88,000 men, women, and children have traveled from Bangladesh and Burma in boats to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Many of these are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Burma, although a significant number are also Bangladeshi nationals."
"Most have traveled in boats to Thailand, where they are then transported overland into jungle camps in Thailand and Malaysia. The camps are used as holding facilities in which victims are detained, extorted, and abused, with mass graves found in recent weeks on both sides of the border of Thailand and Malaysia", HRW says.
The top US NGO wanted participating governments to particularly prioritize "urgent need for search and rescue – now and in the future", adding, they "should accept international offers to provide search and rescue support and seek ways to better coordinate search and rescue efforts, share intelligence, and pool resources."
They should also ensure "unimpeded and unconditional access by UNHCR and IOM to rescued boat people", HRW said, adding, "Transparent, impartial, and professional assessments of individuals who arrive on land or are rescued at sea are needed to determine who is entitled to refugee protection, who should receive services as a trafficking victim, and how appropriate services should be delivered."
It said, "UNHCR should be permitted to exercise its mandate in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia – none of which are parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention – to screen boat arrivals for refugee status and other protection needs. These governments should abide by UNHCR refugee status determinations and scrupulously ensure that refugees and asylum seekers are not forcibly returned to persecution or other serious harm."
HRW insisted, the participating countries should exert pressure on Burma, with whom India shares a long border, "as the main source of the problem", even as calling on Burmese officials to "immediately end the repressive measures and denial of basic rights that have driven Rohingya to flee their native Arakan (Rakhine) state over many years."
Finally, the participating countries should "exert pressure on Bangladesh to stop its pushback policy and end its persecution of Rohingya", said HRW, adding, "The Bangladesh government should cease its own publicly acknowledged policy of engaging in pushbacks of Rohingya to Arakan state and recognize them as refugees deserving protection and support services."

Comments

TRENDING

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.