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

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

Madhya Pradesh tops India's 145 instances of 'anti-Christian atrocities' this year

Counterview Desk  A report prepared by the Religious Liberty Commission the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), founded in 1951 as the national alliance of evangelical Christians of the Protestant denomination, in its just-released report, “Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India: Half Yearly Report 2021”, has said that an analysis of 145 cases of violence it has documented against Christians, mainly by non-state actors, “stems from an environment of targeted hate.”

Demolition drive: Why aren't high-end hotels, farmhouses treated same way as Khorigaon?

By Our Representative A public hearing, sponsored by the civil rights group National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to hear the affected citizens of Khorigaon, off Faridabad, Delhi NCR, has seen local people complaining how their houses are being demolished even as the entire area was converted into a prison through heavy police deployment.

Meaningful? Punjab govt's debt waiver offer for agricultural workers, landless farmers

By Dr Gian Singh*    On July 14, 2021, the Punjab government announced that it would hold a state level function on August 20 to waive the debt of agricultural labourers and landless farmers(pure tenants) of Punjab to the tune of Rs 590 crore. Prior to the 2017 elections, the Congress party had promised in its election manifesto and public speeches that the Punjab government would waive all the institutional and non-institutional debt of farmers and agricultural labourers of Punjab.

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.

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk  Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.

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".

Pro-corporate? New GoI circular 'blatant attempt' to control Adivasi lives, livelihoods

By Hemant Das*  The Indian Community Activists Network (ICAN) condemns the anti-forest dwellers circular jointly issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the (Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), Government of India (GoI) on July 6. 

Covid impact on menstrual cycles? Young girls 'relapsing' back to unhygienic old-cloth rags

By Dr Sudeshna Roy*  Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world in health and economic shock. Combating this public health crisis has diverted development resources earmarked for adolescents and the youth. India; having world’s second largest population; 1.38 crores as per UN mid-year 2020 estimation, also shelters the largest adolescents and young adult population, which at 243 million constitute 20% of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescent population.

Khorigaon demolition: People being 'brutally' evicted, cops 'restricting' food, water

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai* On July 23, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation told the Supreme Court that they have cleared 74 acres out of 150 acres. Despite the affidavit of the Municipal Corporation, the court, on the complaint of various litigants, that the arrangements for living, food etc. have not been made for the people.