Skip to main content

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".
Rejecting the argument of lawyer of the Rohingyas that the government's move was against the UN charter, the Supreme Court accepted the Central Government's statement that the Rohingya were illegal immigrants and Myanmar had accepted them as citizens.
The seven Rohingya refugees were bussed to the border on Wednesday to be deported.
Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, additional director general of police in the northeastern state of Assam, told Reuters, “This is a routine procedure, we deport all illegal foreigners.” However, this will be the first time Rohingya immigrants would be sent back to Myanmar from India.
It is wrong to say that these Rohingya have been recognised as citizens. A letter issued by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Branch) on September 27, 2018 shows that the Special Branch of Delhi Police is clearly collaborating with Myanmar Government. It has accepted a separate nationality verification form issued by the Embassy of Myanmar and is coercing the Rohingya refugees to fill and sign this form.
This form includes additional identifiers which were not included in the form circulated by Indian Home Ministry in October, 2017. Rohingya refugees have said that the form given by the embassy is the same as National Verification Card (NVC) which falsely frames Rohingyas as "foreigners or foreign-born or those with foreign roots”.
It effectively frames Rohingyas as "foreigners or foreign-born or those with foreign roots”. It is not clear whether the Supreme Court has seen the form and satisfied itself about the status of citizenship that Myanmar has granted to the seven Rohingyas.
This is being done when the UN refugee agency has clearly said that the conditions in Rakhine were not conducive for the safe, dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingya.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has come under fire, including in the latest UN report and by prominent human rights organizations, for remaining silent on the military’s brazen brutalities against the minority community. UN rapporteur on racism Tendayi Achiume in a letter to Government of India on October 2, 2018 has pointed out:
“Given the ethnic identity of the men, this is a flagrant denial of their right to protection and could amount to refuoulement… The Indian Government has an international legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection.”
Though India is not a signatory, it has a history of generosity towards persecuted people seeking safety within its borders. However, changes in people's attitude to Rohingyas first began in August 2017, when news emerged of guidance sent by the BJP-led Central government to all the 29 states, asking local officials to identify illegal immigrants for deportation -- including, Rohingya Muslims who had fled Myanmar.
Kiren Rijiju, junior Home Minister told the Parliament on August 9, 2017, "The government has issued detailed instructions for deportation of illegal foreign nationals including Rohingyas."
The words from one of Kiren Rijiju set off a wave of fear and uncertainty across Rohingya settlements in India. As Ali Johar, a Rohingya refugee who challenged the Home Ministry order told me, "We felt scared, we asked people about what we should do, who we should talk to? Where else can we go?"
In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on September 18, 2017 the government said that there exists "authentic material indicating linkages of some of the unauthorized Rohingya immigrants with Pakistan based terror organizations" and "that many of the Rohingyas figure in the suspected sinister designs of ISI/ISIS and other extremist group." Though the government said that it would submit evidence of this to the Supreme Court in a "sealed cover," to date, no evidence has been made publicly available that firmly links Rohingya refugees with international terrorist networks.
The Indian government may not be a signatory to the specific UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, nor the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, it is party to many other international conventions, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which include the principle of "non-refoulement," which is the right to be protected from violence in their home country.
It is clear that the Indian government is now going back on its long-stated policy towards refugees. In the case of Rohingyas, the BJP led government is playing domestic communal politics by trying to whip up communal sentiment, by labeling them as Muslims and potential terrorists. As the debate rages on publicly, Rohingya refugees continue to live in fear as they encounter more local hostility.
It is appalling that at a time when the world community is moving towards prosecuting the Myanmar government for genocide, India, the world’s largest democracy, has become the first country to deport members of the world’s most persecuted community back to Myanmar, where they have been systematically, torture, raped, butchered and forcibly evicted.
---
*Writer and documentary filmmaker, member of the Free Rohingya Coalition, former secretary-general of the South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR) based in Hong Kong and Kathmandu

Comments

Uma said…
One cannot get away from the feeling that had the Rohingyas not been Muslims, they would have been allowed to stay on.

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.