A day after the government informed the Supreme Court that the “illegal” influx of Rohingyas was “seriously harming national security of the country”, India told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state should be handled with “restraint” and focus on the “welfare of the civilian population”.
New Delhi’s remarks came after Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi made her first public remarks since violence broke out in Rakhine, forcing the flight of the Rohingyas.
Without making any mention of the Rohingya refugees coming to India and the government’s plans to deport them, India’s Permanent Representative at the UN in Geneva, Rajiv K Chander, praised Bangladesh and said that the “role” being played by Dhaka in extending humanitarian assistance to the refugees “deserves recognition”.
This statement was made hours after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had a “courtesy meeting” with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Participating in a discussion on the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, Chander said that India is “deeply concerned at the recent spate of violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar that has resulted in the outflow of a large number of people from the State, many of whom have sought shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh”.
“We take note that this violence was triggered off by a series of terrorist attacks which led to loss of lives amongst the security forces as well as the civilian population,” he said, referring to the incident where the militant Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked 30 police posts on August 25, killing 13 security personnel.
“Subsequent operations by the Myanmar security forces in the State resulted in a large outflow of people. It is imperative that violence is ended and normalcy in the State is restored expeditiously through a solution based on respect for peace, communal harmony, justice, dignity and democratic values. We urge that the situation in Rakhine State be handled with restraint, focusing on the welfare of the civilian population,” he said.
Chander’s remarks are a reiteration of the Ministry of External Affairs statement of September 9, which had used the same formulation.
Recalling that Myanmar has welcomed the “meaningful and long term solutions” proposed in the Kofi Annan panel report and assured that it will give full consideration to its recommendations with a view to carrying them out to the fullest extent, and within the shortest time, the Indian Permanent Representative said that the “international community must extend full support to Government of Myanmar in its efforts”.
On the issue of refugees, it said, “There is a serious problem emerging in Bangladesh which is reportedly hosting over 300,000 refugees. India has extended humanitarian relief to Government of Bangladesh to support it in meeting the needs of refugees. The role being played by Bangladesh in extending humanitarian assistance to the refugees deserves recognition.” India has started sending relief material since last week, under Operation Insaniyat.
“It is apparent that the only long-term solution to the situation in Rakhine State is socio-economic and infrastructure development of the State. Such development would generate employment opportunities and economic activity that should have a positive impact on all the communities living in the State.
It is with this understanding that we have recently agreed with Myanmar to provide financial and technical assistance for identified projects to be undertaken in Rakhine State in conjunction with the local authorities,” he said, referring to Indian projects announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Myanmar earlier this month.
“Specifically, there was agreement to undertake both infrastructure and socio-economic projects, particularly in the spheres of education, health, agriculture and allied activities, agro-processing, community development, construction of small bridges, upgradation of roads, small power projects, livelihood activity, setting up of training centres, promotion of household crafts, conservation of environment and cultural heritage,” Chander said.
He reiterated that India is of the “firm belief” that the international community, including UN agencies, need to continue to “engage constructively” with the people and Myanmar government.