Rohingya Refugees

Who are the Rohingya?

  • Rohinyas are ethnic minorities in Myanmar. They follow Muslim Religion.
  • Few years ago, religious and ethnic tensions between the Rohingya Muslims and the Rakhine Buddhists (who make up the majority of the population in Mayanmar) escalated into widespread, deadly rioting. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee. Since then, ongoing violent attacks have forced even more people to leave their homes.
  • The Myanmar Government says that Rohingya people are not Burmese citizens – but the Rohingya have been living in Myanmar for generations. Today, they are a people with no home or citizenship.
  • Rohingya people are being widely abused and exploited. They are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

 Rohingyas deportation issue:

  • Minister of State for Home Affairs  had told parliament that the central government had directed state authorities to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingyas, who face persecution in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
  • The international organisations opine, while India is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, it is still bound by customary international law not to forcibly return any refugee to a place where they face a serious risk of persecution or threats to their life or freedom

What necessitates this move?

The Home Ministry had said that infiltration of (Rohingyas) from the Rakhine state of Myanmar into Indian territory, especially in recent years, besides being a burden on the limited resources of the country, also aggravates security challenges posed to India.

UN principles of non-refoulment:

UN principles of non-refoulment applies in this case. According to these principles, no nation shall expel or return a refugee in any manner to territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

NHRC Observation regarding the deportation issue:

  • Refugees are no doubt foreign nationals but they are human beings.
  • Fear of Persecution: Before taking a big step, the Government of India has to look into every aspect of the situation, keeping in focus the fact that the members of the Rohingya community, who have crossed into India and are residing here for long, have a fear of persecution once they are pushed back to their native country.
  • Highlighted the Supreme Court’s decisions: the Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution apply to all, irrespective of their citizenship.

What needs to happen?

The Myanmar Government should immediately end the violent crackdown on the Rohingya and amend or repeal the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law to provide the Rohingya people with full citizenship in the country.

Bangladesh and other governments in Southeast Asia must ensure those fleeing violence and seeking protection, are granted access. Guaranteeing they will not be pushed back or arbitrarily detained and instead that all their rights will be respected.

Why India refused to join Bali Declaration of World Parliamentary Forum?

  • In Bali Declaration there was a reference to violence in Rakhine State
  • As per India, the declaration adopted at the conclusion of the Forum, was not in line with the agreed global principles of ‘sustainable development’
  • India reiterated its stance that the purpose of convening the Parliamentary forum was to arrive at mutual consensus for implementation of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which requires inclusive and broad-based development processes
  • India said, “Never before ‘country-specific’ issues have been included in the declaration as these dilute the objective of these Forums which require unity and focused efforts of all the countries,”.

China as a mediator between Bangladesh and Myanmar:

China has announced that Bangladesh and Myanmar have accepted its mediatory role and agreed to implement three-phased solution proposed by China which is:

  • First stage: Myanmar should impose ceasefire and stop persecuted Rohingyas from fleeing into Bangladesh.
  • Second stage: Bangladesh and Myanmar should strengthen exchanges and find solution on basis of equality.
  • Third stage: International community to help develop the backward Rakhine state and poverty alleviation of Rohingyas in Myanmar.

How India is handling the issue?

  • India has been receiving Rohingya refugees and allowing them to settle in the different parts of the country over the years, especially after the communal violence in the state of Rakhine in 2012.
  • However, India considers the refugee crisis as an internal affair of Myanmar.
  • Indian believes that ASEAN has an undeniable responsibility to resolve this crisis.
  • India does not want a conflict of interests with the new regime in Myanmar-Myanmar has a key role in India’s Look East Policy.
  • Since India is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees, refugee status granted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the Rohingya was irrelevant to their deportation.
  • According to the Government of India, there are no refugee camps established for either Bangladeshis or Rohingyas in India and there were only schemes of assistance for Tibetan and Sri Lankan refugees.



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