Amid ongoing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, a top UN human rights official on Monday castigated India for its bid to deport Rohingyas who have taken shelter in the country. “I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said while addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council. He also noted that some 40,000 Rohingyas had settled in India, including 16,000 who have received refugee documentation.
While noting India’s obligations under international law, Zeid said: “India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations.” He also denounced Myanmar’s “brutal security operation” against Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine state, saying it was disproportionate to insurgent attacks carried out last month.
A fresh bout of communal tensions seems to rising across Myanmar on Monday two weeks after violence in Rakhine state triggered an exodus of about 300,000 Rohingya Muslims, prompting the government to tighten security at Buddhist pagodas. Read | Rohingya crisis fans communal tensions across Myanmar
Over 270,000 people had fled to Bangladesh, with more trapped on the border, amid reports of the burning of villages and extrajudicial killings, he said. “We have received multiple reports and satellite imagery of security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages, and consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including shooting fleeing civilians,” Zeid told the Geneva forum.
He also cited reports that Myanmar authorities had begun to lay landmines along the border with Bangladesh and would require returnees to provide “proof of citizenship”.
Rohingya have been denied civil and political rights including citizenship rights for decades, he added. “I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population,” Zeid said. “The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Last year, Zeid’s office had issued a report, based on interviews with Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh after a previous military assault, which he said on Monday had “suggested a widespread or systematic attack against the community, possibly amounting to crimes against humanity”.
With inputs from AFP