- The seven Rohingya Muslims have been in India since 2012
- They have served jail terms for illegal entry
- The UN has said the move to deport them could violate international law
Seven Rohingya Muslims, who have been in India since 2012 and served jail terms for illegal entry, will be sent back to Myanmar, where violence against the ethnic minority has spiked in the Rakhine region. The move of the government -- which considers Rohingya Muslims illegal immigrants and a threat to national security -- has drawn criticism from the United Nations, which said their forcible return could mean a violation of international law.
"Given the ethnic identity of the men, this is a flagrant denial of their right to protection and could amount to refoulement," said Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on racism.
The government, she said, has an "international legal obligation" to acknowledge the "institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection".
Sources said the Rohingya Muslims - who are from Kyauk Daw township in central Rakhine -- are being deported from a detention centre in Assam's Silchar. They would be handed over to the Myanmar authorities tomorrow. Myanmar, sources said, is satisfied with all documentation and their identities.
The deportations are based on a government order sent in August last year, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court. The court is considering a petition that has called the 2017 order "unconstitutional".
There are around 40,000 people from the Rohingya community in India, 16,000 of whom are registered with the UN refugee agency. In a submission to the Supreme Court, the government has said the Rohingya are a threat to national security, have links with terror groups and are likely to be used by the ISIS for terror attacks.
Today, when activist Prashant Bhushan wanted urgent hearing for a petition against the deportation, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said, "No mentioning for urgent hearing... unless someone is hanged tomorrow, don't mention for urgent hearing."
"We are working out a system. If the case is urgent it will be listed... You file the petition. We will read it. If it is urgent we will list it," he added.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has said India should use its influence with Myanmar for reconciliation on Rohingya issue. "I believe that countries like India that have really good relations with Myanmar are in a good place to put all possible pressure, like China, like others, on Myanmar to do this kind of investments and to create the conditions for people to go back," he said at a programme in Delhi.
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