Geneva, Switzerland – Rohingya crisis in the region stemming from brutal treatment of ethnic communities in Burma (Myanmar) was highlighted again as a UN human rights expert expressed alarm at the Indian Government’s plan to deport seven Rohingya men to Burma (Myanmar), saying their forcible return could constitute refoulement which violates international law.
“Given the ethnic identity of the men, this is a flagrant denial of their right to protection and could amount to refoulement,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, Tendayi Achiume, adding, “The Indian Government has an international legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection.”
The men from Kyauk Daw township in central Rakhine state face deportation on October 3. They have been held at the Silchar central prison in Cachar district in the State of Assam since 2012 on charges of irregular entry.
“I am also appalled over the length of their detention,” the expert noted. “Prolonged detention of this kind is prohibited. It could be considered arbitrary, and could even fall under the category of inhuman and degrading treatment,” said Achiume. She said it was unacceptable that the men have not received adequate legal counsel.
The Indian Government has an obligation to refer Rohingyas under their custody to the UN refugee agency so their protection needs can be assessed and proper information provided to them about their rights, the expert added.
The planned deportations follow a previous Order by the Government of India on August 8, 2017 to return Rohingyas. The Supreme Court of India is still considering a petition challenging the 2017 Order on the grounds it was unconstitutional.
The UN expert expressed concern that close to 200 Rohingya persons were known to be detained in India on charges of irregular entry. “We urge the Government of India to abide by the international norm of non-refoulement and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees including Rohingyas,” she said.
The Rohingya people are a stateless Indo-Aryan-speaking people who reside in Rakhine State, Burma (Myanmar).