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ACHR Press Release
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ACHR Index: PR/IND/REF/05/04/04
05 April 2004

ACHR calls for protection of Myanmarese refugees and development of refugee law

Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its comments on the replies of the Government of India and State government of Mizoram on the forcible repatriation of the Myanmarese refugees accused the State government of Mizoram of xenophobia, racial discrimination and submission of false and concocted reports to deny refoulment of Myanmarese refugees.

ACHR in its submission to the National Human Rights Commission today stated that although Mizoram government denies any refoulement, there are hundreds of refugees who fled to New Delhi and sought asylum from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to escape from forcible refoulement. Although the repatriation of the Myanmarese refugees has been continuing for a long time, NHRC failed to take appropriate action until the situation went out of hand after the rape of Mizo girl by a Mizo of Myanmarese descent.

"The root cause of the problem is the lack of a refugee law and the government of India has been misusing the Foreigners Act against the refugees. The government makes no distinction between asylum seekers and ordinary foreigners" - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights. In its submission provided testimonies of Burmese asylum seekers who are seeking asylum in New Delhi and the applications submitted to the UNHCR by the asylum seekers citing refoulement by Mizoram authorities.

The ACHR requested the NHRC to direct the Ministry of Home Affairs and State government of Mizoram not to deport any Myanmarese refugee without their applications/claims for "refuge" has been considered by the National Human Rights Commission; to create a separate unit within the National Human Rights Commission to deal with refugee issues and cases, coordinate with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the concerned State governments and develop a model refugee law for consideration by the government of India; to direct the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide assistance to the returnee Myanmarese refugees at par with the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees; and to direct the State government of Mizoram to take appropriate action against organisations and individuals who threaten the Myanmarese refugees.

 

Suhas Chakma
Director


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