The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Friday expressed regret at India’s decision to deport five Rohingyas to Myanmar and asked the government to clarify the circumstances under which they were sent back. The men, who had been arrested for illegally entering the country, had been lodged in a jail in Assam.
India on Thursday handed over the men to Myanmar authorities along the Indo-Myanmar Friendship bridge in Moreh, Manipur. The men were suspected to have entered the country to escape the violence against their community. This was the second such incident in three months. In October, India had deported seven Rohingya men to Myanmar after the Supreme Court refused to interfere in the Centre’s decision to send them back.
“Despite repeated requests, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees did not receive a response from the authorities in India regarding requests for access to individuals in detention to ascertain their circumstances and to assess the voluntariness of their decision to return,” said a statement by the global body. “This is the second such incident since October 2018, when India returned seven Rohingya to Rakhine State in Myanmar, where conditions are not conducive for return.”
India in August 2017 had announced that it was planning to deport all 40,000 Rohingya refugees living in the country.
Myanmar treats Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar.
The global refugee agency said that it has continued to request access and seek clarification on the circumstances under which the latest deportations had taken place.