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

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

Older than Delhi, no other school may have witnessed so many vicissitudes as this one

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*  Behind every book there is a writer or writers. Are the books written for the personal gratification of authors? Is the purpose utilitarian, educational or to gain public ovation? There are writers who publish books because they are inspired by a purely disinterested and fair-minded pursuit of knowledge and to clarify the issues that agitate them and society. The book under discussion   is a masterstroke on the life and times of not only an institution at Ajmeri Gate, Delhi — Anglo Arabic School — but about the complex relationship between the school and the cajoled Muslim community. Just while you are at Ajmeri Gate, supposedly, the border of Old and New Delhi, barely a few meters from the cacophony and the chaos outside the New Delhi railway station, lies an island of serenity — a school much older than New Delhi, with a wholesale machine tools market on its West, a road leading to Rajiv Chowk (Connaught Place) on the East and colourful confusion of rickshaws,