U.N. CONDEMNS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST MYANMAR’S ROHINGYA
Context: The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution on 27th December strongly condemning human rights abuses against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims and other minorities, including arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and deaths in detention.
- The United Nations resolution also calls on Myanmar’s government to take urgent measures to combat incitement of hatred against the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states.
- General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion.
THE UN RESOLUTION
- The resolution expresses alarm at the continuing influx of Rohingya Muslims to neighboring Bangladesh over the last four decades, now numbering 1.1 million.
- Including 744,000 who arrived since August 2017, the aftermath of atrocities committed by the security and armed forces of Myanmar.
- The assembly also expressed alarm at an independent international fact-finding mission’s findings “of gross human rights violations and abuses suffered by Rohingya Muslims and other minorities” by the security forces, which the mission said “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.”
- The resolution called for an immediate cessation of fighting and hostilities.
- It reiterated “deep distress at reports that unarmed individuals in Rakhine state have been and continue to be subjected to the excessive use of forces and violations of international human rights law, international humanitarian law by the military and security and armed forces.”
- And it called for Myanmar’s forces to protect all people, and for urgent steps to ensure justice for all rights violations
- The resolution also urged the government “to expedite efforts to eliminate statelessness and the systematic and institutionalized discrimination” against the Rohingya and other minorities, to dismantle camps for Rohingya and others displaced in Rakhine, and “to create the conditions necessary for the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of all refugees, including Rohingya Muslim refugees.”
- It noted that the Rohingya have twice refused to return to Myanmar from Bangladesh because of the absence of these conditions.
THE ROHINGYA CRISIS
- The Rohingya peopleare a stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group who mostly follow Islam and reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar.
- Buddhist-majority Myanmar has long considered the Rohingya to be Bengalis from Bangladesh even though their families have lived in the country for generations.
- Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights
- The long-simmering Rohingya crisis exploded on Aug. 25, 2017, when Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group.
- The campaign led to the mass Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh and to accusations that security forces committed mass rapes and killings and burned thousands of homes.
ROHINGYAS IN INDIA
- An estimated 40,000 Rohingya have made India their home.
- The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, says about 18,000 of them are registered as refugeesand asylum seekers.
- Rohingya have settled in informal slum-like squatter camps in cities like Jammu, Delhi, and Jaipur, living in unhygienic conditions and surviving through casual construction work.
- Home Minister Amit Shah has said that Rohingya would not be granted citizenship under the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as they did not come to India directly from Myanmar.
THE 1951 REFUGEE CONVENTION
- The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, also known as the 1951 Refugee Convention, is a United Nations multilateral treaty that defines who a refugee is, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum.
- The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals.
- The Convention also provides for some visa-free travel for holders of refugee travel documentsissued under the convention.
- The Refugee Convention builds on Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries.
- A refugee may enjoy rights and benefits in a state in addition to those provided for in the Convention.
- Ideas like the principle of non-refoulement(Article 33) are still applied today, with the 1951 Convention being the source of such rights.
PRINCIPLE OF NON-REFOULEMENT
- Non-refoulementis a fundamental principle of international law that forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in likely danger of persecution based on “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”.
- Non-refoulement refers to the generic repatriationof people, including refugees into war zones and other disaster
- It is a principle of customaryinternational law, as it applies even to states that are not parties to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol.
- The Rohingyashould be treated as Myanmar nationals or be given a chance to form their own state.
- The international community should show a strong resolve to make this happen.
- Meanwhile India and Bangladesh should follow the principle of non-refoulment and should not deport Rohingya as illegal immigrants.
- The government should take steps to see that Rohingya living in camps in parts of India are given humane living condition
- India should follow aggressive diplomacy with Myanmar to get Rohingya citizenship rights in their country.
Discuss in detail the Rohingya crisis? Why is India not ready to give citizenship to the most persecuted minority in the world?
What are the ethical and economic issues involved in giving citizenship or asylum to refugees facing persecution in their home state? What does the international law say on this?