India should help Myanmar ethnic groups caught in conflict, says Nandita Haksar

Ms. Haksar said the armed conflict in Myanmar has been raging during the same time as the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, yet the crisis has not drawn much attention of the international media

Updated - May 14, 2024 04:05 am IST

Published - May 14, 2024 03:59 am IST

India should provide humanitarian assistance to the ethnic groups of Myanmar that have been affected by the armed conflict between the Myanmar junta and the Armed Ethnic Organisations (AEOs), leading human rights lawyer Nandita Haksar said.

Speaking at an event at the India International Centre on Monday, Ms. Haksar urged the Government of India to take a proactive stand, reach out to the affected communities and provide them medical support. She argued that under international humanitarian laws, New Delhi can extend such help without antagonising the military junta in Myanmar.

Ms. Haksar presented a grim picture and said there are various parts of Myanmar, especially the Chin region that she described as “the most bombed area” of Myanmar, where innocent men, women and children are being affected by the conflict.

“The women don’t have sanitary napkins. Children need medical aid. There are miscarriages happening. Some of them whose hands and legs have been amputated, require artificial limbs. We need to urgently send, or tell the government to send, humanitarian aid to Myanmar,” said Ms. Haksar.

Myanmar has been caught in an armed conflict where dozens of AEOs and the military forces of the junta have been caught in a state of warfare. The Hindu had earlier reported that the armed groups have gained control of the international boundaries of Myanmar with its neighbours Bangladesh, India, China and Thailand leaving the junta with the control of the big cities of the country. Hold over the border has given the armed groups control over the commercial routes that are vital for the country.

Ms. Haksar compared the tragedy of Myanmar with other ongoing crises and said the internal fight of Myanmar has been raging during the same time as the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and yet the crisis has, so far, not drawn attention of the international media in a comparably passionate way.

Ms. Haksar urged the Indian authorities to recognise that the refugees from Myanmar are “classical refugees fleeing persecution” saying, “If they do not flee, then they would be jailed and killed. Now the military just shoots them. Refugees in India cannot get an Aadhaar card and can’t get a job. Government of India argues that India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention. Refugee women and men are working in factories in Delhi for Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000 a month. They do not have access to medical facilities.”

Ms. Haksar pleaded with the Indian government to reach out to the ethnic communities that are willing to go home in Chin, Sagaing and other regions and rebuild their lives.

“They need tractors and seeds to rebuild their lives. Why is China doing it and why is India not doing it,” asked Ms. Haksar indicating that other countries have opened channels of communication with the rebel groups of Myanmar and are helping in dealing with the humanitarian catastrophe.

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