Tue, Sep 19, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Indian court hears case on Rohingya deportation

SPEECHES:The court case opened one day before Aung San Suu Kyi is to addresses her nation and as the prime minister of Bangladesh is to raise the issue at the UN

AFP, NEW DELHI, YANGON, Myanmar and DHAKA

Thousands of members of Muslim groups gather yesterday ahead of a planned protest outside the Myanmar embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, against the recent violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Photo: AFP

The Indian government yesterday told the nation’s top court that some of the Muslim Rohingya who have fled Myanmar are a serious security threat as it sought to justify moves to deport up to 40,000 of them.

Senior Indian Home Ministry official Mukesh Mittal said the Supreme Court must allow the government to take a decision in the wider interests of the country since some of the Rohingya have an extremist record.

“Some of the Rohingyas with militant background are also found to be very active in Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mewat and have been identified as having a very serious and potential threat to the national security of India,” he said in a written statement to the court.

The statement also highlighted the “serious potential” for an “eruption of violence against the Buddhists who are Indian citizens who stay on Indian soil.”

The Rohingya have denied any link with Muslim extremist groups.

The statement came in response to a petition filed at the Supreme Court challenging the government’s decision to deport the Rohingya, many of whom have been in India for the past decade.

Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer representing the Rohingya, said the Indian constitution “provides equal rights and liberty to every person” including non-citizens.

Mohammad Salimullah, one of the two Rohingya petitioners, said the authorities in New Delhi had always been helpful so he was hopeful the court would support the refugees.

The UN said there are 16,000 registered Rohingya in India, but many more are undocumented. The government puts the figure at 40,000.

About 7,000 of them live in shanties in India’s Jammu Kashmir state and they say they have faced hostility from the majority Hindu community there.

Rights groups have urged India to abide by its international obligations after the government said last month it had asked state authorities to identify and deport the Rohingya living in their territories.

Many experts question where India could send the Rohingya even if the deportations get Supreme Court backing.

Myanmar claims the community are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship.

Meanwhile, pressure grew yesterday on Myanmar’s government as Human Rights Watch urged world leaders to impose sanctions on the Burmese military, which is accused of driving out more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims in an orchestrated “ethnic cleansing” campaign.

The call from Human Rights Watch came as the UN General Assembly prepared to convene in New York City, with the crisis in Myanmar one of the most pressing topics.

Myanmar hinted on Sunday that it would not take back all who had fled across the border, accusing those refugees of having links to the Rohingya militants whose raids on police posts last month triggered the army backlash.

Any moves to block the refugees’ return will likely inflame Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hasina, who will urge the General Assembly to put more global pressure on Myanmar to take back all the Rohingya massing in shanty towns and camps near the border.

Human Rights Watch also called for the “safe and voluntary return” of the displaced as it urged governments around the globe to punish Myanmar’s army with sanctions for the “ongoing atrocities” against the Rohingya.

It called on the General Assembly to make the crisis a priority, urging countries to impose travel bans and asset freezes on Burmese officers implicated in the abuses, as well as to expand arms embargoes.

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