Myanmar rights group asks India not to deport refugees

The N. Biren Singh government started the process of deporting 77 Myanmar nationals earlier in March

Updated - March 25, 2024 10:02 am IST

Published - March 24, 2024 10:35 pm IST - Guwahati

The Nongthombam Biren Singh government began the process of sending back 77 refugees from Myanmar by deporting eight of them on March 8. File photo of the Indo-Myanmar border.

The Nongthombam Biren Singh government began the process of sending back 77 refugees from Myanmar by deporting eight of them on March 8. File photo of the Indo-Myanmar border. | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

A Myanmar-based organisation has asked the Manipur government not to deport Myanmar refugees back to the war-torn country unless they choose to return. They say people returning are likely to face conscription.

The Nongthombam Biren Singh government began the process of sending back 77 refugees from Myanmar by deporting eight of them on March 8.

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In a statement issued on Sunday, the Burma Refugees Committee – Kabaw Valley said they feared that they would be handed over to the military junta.

The organisation said that Myanmar imposed the People’s Military Service Law — referred to as “conscription law” — on February 10. “We are extremely worried that handing the Myanmar nationals over to the junta would prompt the military regime to use them as human shields on the battlefields,” it said.

Urging the Manipur government to reconsider the deportation plan on socio-political and humanitarian grounds, the organisation hoped the Myanmar nationals would be given a choice between staying back in Manipur temporarily or risking conscription by returning home.

Temporary permit

“We would also request the Manipur government for consideration allowing them to stay temporarily in the border areas after being released from the detention centre till they can safely return to their homes,” the organisation said.

Myanmar’s military has been engaged in localised battles with pro-democracy forces since it staged a coup in February 2021.

The 77 refugees, including 51 women and five children, were taken into custody for illegally entering India and are lodged at a detention centre in Imphal.

Officials said altogether 6,746 Myanmar nationals were detected between May 3, 2023, and February 27 this year. Of these, 259 were sent back after recording their biometric data.

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