Skip to main content

Myanmar junta crackdown: Demand to allow refugees in India, sign Geneva Convention

Counterview Desk 

India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as seeking restoration of democracy in Myanmar and declaring "support" to the "civil disobedience movement" against the military (Tatmadaw), has demanded that the Government of India (GoI) should allow refuge to Myanmar’s citizens "fleeing persecutions and violence."Criticising GoI for taking a "balanced" view of the Myanmar junta, an NAPM statement asked India to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention immediately, underlining, "The controversial and unconstitutional Citizens Amendment Act, 2020 cannot be seen as a response to the crisis. Instead, India must develop a long-term, humane approach to the issue of refugees fleeing political persecution from their homelands."

Text:

It’s more than two months since the Burmese military in a coup on 1 February refused to hand over the power to the National League for Democracy (NLD) after their victory in the November 2020 elections. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the army’s commander-in-chief and Myanmar’s de-facto ruler has justified the coup on grounds of large-scale election fraud, though the elections commission has denied these allegations.
Following the coup, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and many of her party NLD’s colleagues have been jailed under various charges including that of violating colonial Official Secrets Act. National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) condemns this undermining of the democratic transition and usurping of power by the military Junta.
Pro-democracy protests, cutting across ethnic lines, have erupted across the country in major cities and in the ethnic regions. The military, also known as Tatmadaw, has suppressed these protests using extreme violence, torture, extra-judicial killings, rapes, resulting in death of an estimated 1,000 people and more, including a large number of children.
Given that there have been internet shutdowns over a large region, restrictions on domestic media, and the country being closed to the international media, it is difficult to have a complete picture of the death and mayhem being caused in the country at the moment.
Tatmadaw had earlier said that it is imposing these emergency measures for a year to bring the country to normalcy and establish peace. However, now Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun has suggested that it could extend its ongoing state of emergency order for as long as two years.
On November 8, Myanmar's parliamentary elections were held. Observers had little doubt about the ability of Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD to see its majority renewed, but several of them expected a record abstention, especially because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and a smaller majority than that achieved in 2015.
Aung San Suu Kyi's first term had been marked by several stinging failures – the stalled peace process, large-scale violence against Rohingyas, the limitation of civil liberties, the slow pace of pro-people reforms, massive land acquisitions, and the savage exploitation of natural resources – all indications that the NLD was not in line with the programme that brought it to power in 2015.
However, despite severely falling short in upholding democratic values, Aung San Suu Kyi and her party are seen by many as the only legitimate person and group to lead the country and the only bulwark against a return of the brutal army to power. This was reflected in the election results, where NLD surpassed its 2015 performance and won 396 seats out of 642 (166 seats are reserved for the army, as per 2008 Constitution).
The former army party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), in power before 2015, suffered a total defeat and won only about 30 seats nationally. Nevertheless, it is still the main opposition bloc, joining the 166 MPs appointed by the army.
Ethnic parties, which made great efforts to agree and put forward joint candidacies to increase their chances of a failed election, are largely trying to secure a blocking minority in the national parliament. These elections marked the slow process of democratic transition which started in 2010, after five decades of rule by the Junta.
The current political circumstances will only further escalate the conflict, create instability in the region and also affect the democratic transition of power in a country already riddled with ethnic conflict.
The 2017 military offensive against the Rohingyas received widespread international attention and condemnation but overall, the Tatmadaw’s ‘clearances operation’ against the ethnic armed organizations in Kachin, Shan, Karen, Chin and others continued. They caused death of more than 10,000 people and displaced nearly a million inside the country.
An estimated million Rohingya refugees have taken shelter in Bangladesh and neighbouring countries. International community failed to stop the genocide and hold the persons accountable for it, despite cases in the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice. The UN and other international organizations responded with aid but their efforts have been limited and access hindered to many of these conflict-ridden border areas and camps.
Post-coup, unfortunately many foreign powers including India failed to react immediately and demand urgent restoration of democracy in Myanmar. Many chose to participate in the celebration of Armed Forces Day on March 27 organized by the military, thereby lending credibility to the regime. India only recently, after criticism inside and outside, changed its position and demanded restoration of democracy in Myanmar, a welcome step.
The UN security council on April 1, after two months, responded with the strong condemnation against military violence against the protesters, but refrained from using strong language and sanctions against military, under pressure from China and Russia. EU and US have issued sanctioned against the 11 persons associated with the coup including some other measures, but more is needed. This is definitely not enough.
Supreme Court ruling was made possible because India is not a signatory to international treaties on non-refoulement
India’s ‘balanced approach’, keeping in mind, its geo-political interests are not enough. The circulars from Home Ministry denying refuge to people running away from violence in the border states goes against the humanitarian concerns. State of Mizoram has already written saying they will allow those feeling violence on humanitarian grounds and Manipur has also withdrawn its circular on refusing entry. It needs to be remembered that many of the communities in border states have shared cultural heritage and ethnic ties.
In the past we have welcomed refugees from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal, and thus the current situation demands that we continue to do so and develop a long-term approach to the issue of refugees fleeing political persecution in their homelands.
The controversial and unconstitutional Citizens Amendment Act, 2020 cannot be seen as a response to the crisis. Instead, India must develop a long-term, humane approach to the issue of refugees fleeing political persecution from their homelands. Towards this end, we must ratify the UN Convention governing refugees and have a fair domestic mechanism to deal with the rights and needs of refugees.
The latest order of the Supreme Court (April 8) shows India declining to take responsibility for the violence Rohingya refugees currently in detention (in holding centres in Jammu) are likely to face, if deported. The three-member Bench led by the Chief Justice refused to grant the refugees interim relief, while also stating that the Rohingyas ‘shall not be deported unless the procedure prescribed for such deportation is followed.’
A ruling of such nature is made possible also by the fact that India is not a signatory to international treaties propounding the principle of non-refoulement, which would forbid the expulsion of a refugee when there is clear and certain danger of life in the country of origin.
While there are still many road blocks to the restoration of democracy in Myanmar, it is indeed a welcome measure that the resistance to the coup has done away with long-standing divisions of ethnicity, religion, domicile and occupation in the region.
Several, pro-democracy groups, women’s organizations (Gender Equality Network, Burmese Women’s Union, Karen Women’s Organization and many others), youth groups, student’s unions, and others are resisting the military and nationalist groupls supporting the coup.
NAPM stands with the people of Burma demanding restoration of democracy in their country and with the emerging women and youth-led civil disobedience movement defying the military repression and curfew.
We condemn the extra-judicial killings, violence and rape by the Burmese military on the people and urge government of India to stop supporting the repressive regime and use its influence at ASEAN and UN to ensure urgent restoration of democracy. A disturbed Myanmar doesn’t bode well for peace and promotion of democratic values in the region.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”