The Rohingyas are a group of Muslim minority who are stateless in lieu of the prosecution they are facing in their country, Myanmar. This kind of “ethnic cleansing” has brought forward outrageous accounts of mass killings, rapes, arson, kidnappings by the Myanmar army. According to a detailed 440 paged report submitted by the United Nations fact finding mission, the Myanmar army has systematically targeted children and women and there is an active exclusionary and discriminatory rhetoric against minorities.The report also calls for a genocide tribunal over the crisis so that there is accountability. According to leading international news agency, Reuters, over 7 lac Rohingyas have escaped to the neighbouring states in wake of such attacks that have been termed as unprecedented. They have taken asylum in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and India.
A few months ago, in June 2018 the United Nations signed a memorandum of understanding with the Myanmar government which was for the repatriation of over 5,00,000 refugees back to Myanmar. The Washington Post, criticised this move heavily because the terms of such agreement has not revealed to the public and there are no security measures taken for the Rohingyas returning to their war-torn country. Their villages have been burned to the ground and their lands given away to the Buddhists, forcing all of them to take shelter in refugee camps. According to Azeem Ibrahim at the Centre for Global Policy, these camps are places with no relief organisations are permitted, the people living there have no hope for ever being released, no education, no access to health care or any access to jobs and money.
In the wake of the international community becoming more and more aware about the hidden genocide in Myanmar and several rights group advocating their case, the decision of the Supreme Court with the newly appointed Chief Justice of India on the bench, can be termed as highly apathetic. In what has been called the most horrendous crimes to be carried out against the minorities, the Supreme Court has pushed seven Rohingyan men closer to their death by allowing their deportation. These men had been in jail for six years now and had been charged for illegal entry to the country.
Only a few days ago at the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention in New Delhi did the Secretary General of the United Nations call for India’s help to tackle the ongoing crisis by backing smaller countries like Bangladesh in humanitarian assistance. It had also been asked to use its influence in Myanmar to bring about reconciliation.
The present government led by Narendra Modi has described the worn out Rohingyas as a sect posing national threat. The Central Government had asked the state governments to identify such men and deport them. This move has brought in severe criticism from the international community.
Human Rights Watch said “deporting these men will place them at severe risk of torture and abuse.” Amnesty International said their deportations “violates customary international law.”
United Nation Special Reporter, Tendayi Achiume has said that such action violated international law and is a denial to the right to protection of the minorities and amounts to refoulement. India has an obligation to acknowledge the discrimination and violations these seven people are facing in their country of origin and residence because of their ethnicity should have been take into consideration by the Apex Court during the judgment. According to Achuime, these people have the right to protection that they have manifestly denied.
The insensitivity of the government can be summed in the words of the spokesman for the India’s Home Affairs Ministry, “If someone enters the country illegally, we will send them back,” When asked if that applied to people fleeing violence in their native countries, he said, “This is applicable to everyone.”
If India wants to be taken seriously on an international level, it needs to step up and live up to its international obligations. The conditions in Myanmar are not conducive for living, let alone living a dignified life with basic means of sustenance, their existence once they land in Myanmar are altogether in question. Proper legal counsel should be granted to these men and India should use its position as a power player in South East Asia to ensure that such extraneous violations of life do not take place. India instead of being a silent spectator to become a facilitator in stopping the ongoing crisis.
By Prerona Banerjee,
Student Reporter, INBA