Myanmar’s exiled National Unity Government cautiously recognises rights of Rohingyas

However, the exiled opposition of Myanmar is aware of certain ‘limitations’ regarding the displaced community

December 01, 2022 06:23 am | Updated 06:23 am IST - NEW DELHI

The refugee crisis exploded in August-September 2017 when the Myanmar military intensified its so-called anti-terror military campaign that evicted more than a million Rohingyas who were forced to seek shelter in Bangladesh.

The refugee crisis exploded in August-September 2017 when the Myanmar military intensified its so-called anti-terror military campaign that evicted more than a million Rohingyas who were forced to seek shelter in Bangladesh. | Photo Credit: AP

The laws of Myanmar that prompted one of the largest refugee crises in recent decades involving the Rohingya community of the Rakhine province is deeply unpopular among the democratic anti-junta forces. The Hindu was told recently that the ruling military junta is under growing pressure from the “troops” of the National Unity Government (NUG) which is being “actively engaged” by several countries, including France and the United States.

“The Rohingyas have been living in Burma for several centuries. The 1982 Burma (Myanmar) Citizenship Act that denied citizenship to the Rohingya refugees should not be allowed in future. We fully recognise rights of the Rohingya refugees,” The Hindu was communicated by an important interlocutor. However, the exiled opposition of Myanmar is aware of certain “limitations” regarding the displaced community as it was caught in a cycle of violence involving fundamentalist forces and terror networks in the region.

Also read: The continuing stalemate in Myanmar 

“Not all Rohingya will be accepted, ” The Hindu was told, indicating that the NUG favours screening the community before repatriation for possible allegiance to extremist groups. The refugee crisis exploded in August-September 2017 when the Myanmar military intensified its so-called anti-terror military campaign that evicted more than a million Rohingyas who were forced to seek shelter mainly in Bangladesh.

It has been learned that since the February 2021 coup, there are two kinds of armed resistance groups that have sprung up across Myanmar — People’s Defence Forces (PDF) which operates under the “Ministry of Defence” of the NUG and Local Defence Forces (LDF) and that the resistance fighters are being “systematically armed” to challenge the might of the Myanmar military which has carried out a relentless campaign against the armed and unarmed members of the NUG forcing many of them to seek shelter in neighbouring countries. It is reported that at least 300 PDF battalions were found to be active in 250 townships across Myanmar.

Myanmar’s internal upheavals have left impressions on India’s northeast repeatedly over the past several months as the clashes between the junta and the NUG and ERO (Ethnic Resistance Organisations) have led to displacement of around 50,000 individuals from Myanmar into India. Out of the total, the largest number of the ethnic refugees belonging to Chin Kachin and other such groups of the conflict-riddled country are staying in Mizoram. The rest of the displaced population is scattered in Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and a few urban centres of India. The journey to seek refuge in India passes through territories that are heavily contested by the military and the NUG.

The anti-junta segment strongly argued that the current rulers of Myanmar pose a serious threat to India’s security and the security architecture of South Asia. A source who closely follows northeastern insurgent groups and their cross-border links claimed a major Meitei extremist group of Manipur is receiving support from the military junta in Nay Pyi Taw. The individual said the links surfaced in the backdrop of the killing of two Tamil citizens in Myanmar’s Tamu last July. The person revealed that the NUG’s resistance fighters have been instructed to oppose anti-India groups in the region.

A vocal section of the anti-junta movement believes that India should support the movement to overthrow the military rulers as they are reportedly carrying out “brutalities” against the protesters. This section feels the Indo-Myanmar border will be safe under a future NUG government. India has been engaged with the junta, and last week Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra travelled to Nay Pyi Taw and met decision- makers there. The NUG, The Hindu has learnt, wants India to stop sending weapons to Myanmar. Justice for Myanmar an advocacy group has been calling upon the government of India to stop exporting items that the regime has been using against Myanmar’s citizens.

Reports from Chin, Kachin and Sagaing regions of Myanmar suggest that the rebels have greater support in the rural areas of the country. Sources claimed that the “troops” of the PDF have carried out hits even against the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

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