Rohingyas’ Deportation: India Violates In’t Law

 

By Syed Qamar Rizvi.

 

Needless to say, Modi’s government in India has no regards about the sanctity of international norms or international law seen from New Delhi ‘s negative initiative to unjustifiably deport the Rohingya Muslims, thereby violating the Refugee Convention 1951. All of an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living in India are illegal immigrants, even those registered with the UN refugee agency, and the government aims to deport them, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju has told news agency Reuters.

The Minister of State for Home Affairs told parliament last week the central government had directed state authorities to identify and deport illegal immigrants including Rohingya, who face persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has issued identity cards to about 16,500 Rohingya in India that it says help them “prevent harassment, arbitrary arrests, detention and deportation”.

The UNHCR’s India office said on Monday the principle of non-refoulement – or not sending back refugees to a place where they face danger – was considered part of customary international law and binding on all states whether they have signed the Refugee Convention or not.

The office said it had not received any official word about a plan to deport Rohingya refugees, and had not got any reports deportations were taking place.
The treatment of the roughly one million Rohingya in Myanmar has emerged as its most contentious human rights issue as it makes a transition from decades of harsh military rule.

Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch’s South Asia director, slammed the plan, noting that India as a member of the UN Human Rights Council was aware of the risks Rohingya refugees faced if deported. 

“India was part of the council that authorised a fact-finding mission after tens of thousands of Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh from Mynamar, following a security operation in which hundreds were killed and raped,” she told Al Jazeera.

“So India is aware of the risks of abuse, and India has an international obligation to protect them.”

Thousands of Rohingyas were forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after Myanmar security forces launched a crackdown in the wake of a deadly attack late last year. Many of them crossed the border into India. Others have also fled to southeast Asia, often on rickety boats run by people-smuggling gangs

Rijiju told parliament last week that the central government had directed state authorities to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingya. HRW’s Ganguly said she was worried that Rijiju’s comments could encourage vigilante violence against the Rohingya community in India.

The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key ‘legal document’ that forms the basis of refugees’ right. Ratified by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.

The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of ‘customary international law’. 

UNHCR serves as the ‘vanguard’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected

She also questioned the practicality of rounding up and expelling thousands of people scattered across the country. The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Burma and classified as illegal immigrants, despite claiming roots there that go back centuries, with communities marginalised and occasionally subjected to communal violence.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled from Burma, with many taking refuge in Bangladesh, and some then crossing a porous border into Hindu-majority India. Many have also headed to South East Asia, often on rickety boats run by people-smuggling gangs. Rohingya are generally vilified in India and over the past few months, there has been a string of anti-Rohingya protests. The treatment of the roughly one million Rohingya in Burma has emerged as its most contentious human rights issue as it makes a transition from decades of harsh military rule.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Burma and classified as illegal immigrants, despite claiming roots there that go back centuries, with communities marginalised and occasionally subjected to communal violence. After violating the rights of the Kashmiri Muslim, India now brutally undermines the rights of the Rohingyas whose rights are protected by the UN’s Charter of the Human rights as well as the UN’s Convention of Refugee 1951.

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