At present, a petition challenging the deportation is pending before the Supreme Court. The petition alleges that the deportation violates principles of customary international law <https://barandbench.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Rohingya-Petition.pdf> , especially the principle of non-refoulement i.e. that a person cannot be repatriated if they can demonstrate that their life or freedoms shall be substantially harmed in their country of origin. Customary international law is binding on States regardless of whether they have ratified treaties containing provisions to the same effect, and hence the Indian state is bound by this principle despite not ratifying the 1951 Refugee Convention. There is ample evidence to show that Myanmar has consistently conducted a pogrom against Rohingyas <https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/12/21/burma-rohingya-recount-killings-rape-and-arson> , especially in the Rakhine state to which the group has been confined, resulting in the denial of basic human rights to the Rohingya.
The Indian State must refrain from making irresponsible and false statements that it has no obligations under international law to protect the Rohingyas. The State must fulfil its obligations under international law, and also demonstrate some basic humanity towards people who are fleeing one of the worst genocides in modern history. The State must rescind the order of deportation, and extend a helping hand to a community that is generally considered the most persecuted in the world. It is also essential that the characterization of Rohingyas as national security threats ceases immediately, and that the equal protection of the law and the right to life is extended to these refugees in line with long-standing precedent on the issue. The de facto regime of refugee protection, wherein the UNHCR was allowed to function without impairment, must continue, and Rohingyas must be provided with all possible protections from the State without regard for political considerations, much as how the government assisted Tibetan refugees more than half a century ago. The present stance of the Indian government also puts undue pressure on Bangladesh to accommodate the refugees and a large number of them are now in Bangladesh.
Further, if there is evidence of any Rohingyas being involved in terrorist activities or activities threatening India’s national security, they can and must be dealt with according to the due process of law. To paint a whole community with the same brush and send them back into a situation of grave danger due to the supposed criminal activities of a few is reprehensible. There is enough documented evidence by well-respected authorities and sources which show the horrific situation in the Rakhine state, the genocide that the Rohingya are fleeing. The Indian State is continuously ignoring these and striving hard to establish a flimsy counter-narrative of the security implications of allowing the Rohingyas to stay– one steeped in parochialism and barbarity.
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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.