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.