Rohingya men went voluntarily, India tells U.N.

A Rohingya man fills out an identification form, provided by local police, inside his shop at a camp in New Delhi on October 4, 2018.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

India rejected the United Nations statement that its repatriation of seven Rohingya men violated the U.N. principle of “refoulement” or “forcibly deporting people to a place they could be persecuted,” saying that the men, who were handed over to Myanmar officials at the border on Thursday, had gone voluntarily.

“Upon reconfirming their willingness to be repatriated (on October 3, 2018), and with the full concurrence of the government of Myanmar, in accordance with established procedures and laws, the government of Assam has arranged for the repatriation of these seven individuals to Myanmar,” a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said.

The MEA also said that the men, who belonged to Rakhine State had requested in 2016 the Myanmar government to issue them documents to return to their country.

However, the UN High Commission for Refugees in Delhi (UNHCR), that had appealed to India to stay the repatriation, said that was prior to the ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State in 2017 that saw nearly a million flee to camps in Bangladesh.

Aid agencies said that more than 10,000 people had been killed in retaliation by security forces after an attack by militant group ARSA that killed 71 security personnel on August 24, 2017. The reprisal included mass gang-rapes of women, the killing of babies and burning of Rohingya villages, according to a UN report.

As a result, a UNHCR spokesperson said the seven men, who had been imprisoned in Assam since 2012, and were recently moved to a detention camp in Manipur, had been denied the “opportunity to make an informed decision about their return to Myanmar in the current conditions and/or access their right to seek safe asylum.” “UNHCR has expressed its view that the current conditions in Rakhine State in Myanmar are not conducive for safe, dignified and sustainable returns for Rohingya,” the spokesperson added.

The MEA did not respond to a specific question from The Hindu on whether it had sought or received assurances from the Myanmar government on the safety of the men once they returned to Rakhine.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 2:58:42 PM |

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