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

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 lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

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".

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.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen