Current News

Without a homeland

Nowhere
to go: Burmese refugees in Delhi. Photo: S. Subramanium


Source
The Hindu: 
January
11, 2013
Refugees
from Myanmar refuse to return to the country citing violence and
discrimination
National
League of Democracy chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi’s return to active
politics in May last year after over two decades of incarceration had
raised the hopes of the hundreds of Burmese refugees in India. They
had also rejoiced during her six-day visit to the Capital last
November. Yet the refugees, especially the Rohingya Muslims, are not
willing to go back to their home country citing continuing violence
against them and would instead prefer to obtain refugee status in
India.

“Even
after the change in government, not even one refugee has approached
us to go back to Myanmar,” said Diana, a United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson.

A
2009 survey by Refugee International showed that there are 50,000 to
100,000 displaced Burmese (mostly Chin and Rohingyas) in India. Most
of them are stationed in the north eastern States, Jammu, Haryana,
Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
In
Delhi, most of the Chin Refugees, who are Christians, live in
Vikaspuri while the Rohingyas are living in a camp in Kanchan Kunj on
the outskirts of the city near Kalindi Kunj. According to UNHCR, the
Rohingyas are the most oppressed minority group in Myanmar.
Some
of these refugees came to India eight to 10 years back, while some
came a month back. “They (the majority Buddhists) kidnap young
boys, so our parents brought us here. They hit us, don’t allow
people of our caste to marry and if one does, we have to pay a tax
which cost us our property and lakhs of money,” said Ali Johar, 17,
while struggling to communicate in Hindi. Ali fled from Myanmar four
months back to escape from the torture Rohingyas face since they are
not recognized as citizens of the country.
During
Mr. Suu Kyi’s visit, she regretted that India-Myanmar relations had
weakened over the past 20 years and asked for India’s support to
restore democratic rule in Myanmar. She, however, chose not to speak
much about the plight of the Rohingyas although the President of
Myanmar, Thein sein, did make a comment before President Barack
Obama’s visit to the country that the government would take
“decisive action” to stop violence against the Rohingyas.

“We
voted for her as she promised to make changes in the marriage laws
but she was put under house arrest soon after. We were brutally
tortured for voting for her. Now that she’s the leader, she will
not do anything for us as it will affect her politically. We can’t
go back, the situation is same for us there even now,” said
24-year-old Anvarsha, who is in constant touch with his relatives in
Myanmar.
Fifty
families of Rohingyas live in a small piece of land owned by Jagat
Foundation. Each family has a room, kitchen and bathroom under one
tin shed; they have also managed to build a makeshift mosque for
themselves in the camp. They have two hand pumps installed at two
corners of the camp for water supply. The UNHCR has granted them to
live in Delhi till 2015 as ‘asylum seekers’. They are struggling
to be granted a refugee status like the Chin refugees.

“The
UNHCR has called us for interviews but it is a very slow process. We
want the refugee status as it will give us a place to live, clothes,
health benefits and will let our children get educated. Now even the
Jagat Foundation people want us to leave their land and shift our
camp elsewhere. We have no place to go,” said 18-year-old Abdul
Rahman.
Refugees
from Myanmar refuse to return to the country citing violence and
discrimination
National
League of Democracy chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi’s return to active
politics in May last year after over two decades of incarceration had
raised the hopes of the hundreds of Burmese refugees in India. They
had also rejoiced during her six-day visit to the Capital last
November. Yet the refugees, especially the Rohingya Muslims, are not
willing to go back to their home country citing continuing violence
against them and would instead prefer to obtain refugee status in
India.

“Even
after the change in government, not even one refugee has approached
us to go back to Myanmar,” said Diana, a United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson.
A
2009 survey by Refugee International showed that there are 50,000 to
100,000 displaced Burmese (mostly Chin and Rohingyas) in India. Most
of them are stationed in the north eastern States, Jammu, Haryana,
Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
In
Delhi, most of the Chin Refugees, who are Christians, live in
Vikaspuri while the Rohingyas are living in a camp in Kanchan Kunj on
the outskirts of the city near Kalindi Kunj. According to UNHCR, the
Rohingyas are the most oppressed minority group in Myanmar.
Some
of these refugees came to India eight to 10 years back, while some
came a month back. “They (the majority Buddhists) kidnap young
boys, so our parents brought us here. They hit us, don’t allow
people of our caste to marry and if one does, we have to pay a tax
which cost us our property and lakhs of money,” said Ali Johar, 17,
while struggling to communicate in Hindi. Ali fled from Myanmar four
months back to escape from the torture Rohingyas face since they are
not recognized as citizens of the country.
During
Mr. Suu Kyi’s visit, she regretted that India-Myanmar relations had
weakened over the past 20 years and asked for India’s support to
restore democratic rule in Myanmar. She, however, chose not to speak
much about the plight of the Rohingyas although the President of
Myanmar, Thein sein, did make a comment before President Barack
Obama’s visit to the country that the government would take
“decisive action” to stop violence against the Rohingyas.

“We
voted for her as she promised to make changes in the marriage laws
but she was put under house arrest soon after. We were brutally
tortured for voting for her. Now that she’s the leader, she will
not do anything for us as it will affect her politically. We can’t
go back, the situation is same for us there even now,” said
24-year-old Anvarsha, who is in constant touch with his relatives in
Myanmar.
Fifty
families of Rohingyas live in a small piece of land owned by Jagat
Foundation. Each family has a room, kitchen and bathroom under one
tin shed; they have also managed to build a makeshift mosque for
themselves in the camp. They have two hand pumps installed at two
corners of the camp for water supply. The UNHCR has granted them to
live in Delhi till 2015 as ‘asylum seekers’. They are struggling
to be granted a refugee status like the Chin refugees.

“The
UNHCR has called us for interviews but it is a very slow process. We
want the refugee status as it will give us a place to live, clothes,
health benefits and will let our children get educated. Now even the
Jagat Foundation people want us to leave their land and shift our
camp elsewhere. We have no place to go,” said 18-year-old Abdul
Rahman.