INDIA: Release Rohingya Muslims languishing in Bengal prisons

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information from its partner organization, MASUM in West Bengal regarding the abuse of Rohingya Muslims in Bengal. They have fled their homes in Burma to escape the violence and human rights abuses but have been arrested on charges of coming into India without documentation.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to information received by MASUM, AHRC’s partner organization in West Bengal, many Rohingya Muslims have travelled to India from Burma to escape persecution. The Rohingya people have been arrested by police in West Bengal, India and are under detention at Malda District Correctional Home, West Bengal since early 2016.

The particulars of those persons recorded in the correctional home are as follows:

 

 

Fleeing persecution in Burma, these Rohingya travelled to India to save their lives and make a living. Instead, they now have cases registered against them on the allegation that they have entered India without any valid documentation.

It is estimated that around 40,000 Rohingya are living in various Indian cities, including Hyderabad, New Delhi, Jammu and Kolkata, with many in prison for travelling into India without the proper documents as per Indian law. In April 2017, it was reported that the Union Government is coming up with a plan to deport the Rohingya, for violations under the Foreigners Act,1946 as they are undocumented and India does not officially recognize them as refugees.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

According to the Burma Citizenship Law passed in 1982, the Rohingya Muslims were effectively denied citizenship rights as they were not officially recognized as one of 135 ethnic groups in Burma. The law was passed by the military junta and has resulted in umpteen clashes between the Buddhist majority population and the minority Rohingya Muslims. The Rakhine state, in particular, has seen untold violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslims. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), tens of thousands of people have abandoned their homes due to a military crackdown in October 2016. It has been reported that Rohingya people in Rakhine have faced serious human rights abuses such as summary killings, torture, rape and arbitrary arrests.

The Rohingya Muslims, considered one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, have the right to seek refuge and asylum due to the human rights abuses systematically meted out to them. This right flows from Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and denying them this is an absolute violation of the principles enshrined under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the following authorities urging them to drop the charges against the Rohingya in prison, make a thorough enquiry into their situation and provide them an opportunity to seek refugee status in India. India must urgently draw up a policy on the status of Rohingyas in India and provide them with all the facilities required to live in India as refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees must be granted access to those who are imprisoned, so that they can be given assistance.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for their intervention in the matter.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ___________, INDIA: Release Rohingya Muslims languishing in Bengal prisons Names of victims:Asha Begam, Fatema Begam, Hamira Begam, Thaslima Bibi, Fahiadul Islam and Md. Hussain Date of incident: January 2016 onwards Place of incident: West Bengal, India I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the Rohingya Muslims that have travelled to India from Burma in order to escape persecution. The Rohingya people have been arrested by police in West Bengal, India and are detained at Malda District Correctional Home, West Bengal since early 2016. These persons have been displaced from Burma and have travelled to India to save their lives and make a living. They are stateless and homeless as Burma does not recognize them as citizens. They have cases registered against them on the allegation that they have entered India without any valid documentation. I was informed that in Burma, Rohingyas are not considered full citizens according to the Burma Citizenship Law passed in 1982, and are systematically and officially denied their basic civil, political, social and cultural rights. I read news reports that they are routinely subjected to killings, arbitrary arrest, torture and forced labour. The Rakhine state, in particular, has seen untold violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslims. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), tens of thousands of people have abandoned their homes due to a military crackdown in October 2016. In view of the prevailing circumstances, the Rohingya people had no alternative but to flee Burma to save their lives. The Rohingya Muslims, considered one of the world’s most persecuted minorities have the right to seek refuge and asylum due to the human rights abuses systematically meted out to them. This right flows from Article 14 of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights and denying them this is an absolute violation of the principles enshrined under the Declaration. In India, it is estimated that around 40,000 Rohingya are living in various Indian cities, including Hyderabad, New Delhi, Jammu and Kolkata, with many in prison for travelling into India without the proper documents as per Indian law. In April 2017, it was reported that the Union Government is coming up with a plan to deport the Rohingya, for violations under the Foreigners Act,1946 as they are undocumented and India does not officially recognize them as refugees. I therefore urge that: • The concerned authorities must be directed to make a through enquiry into the situation of the Rohingyas in jail  • The Rohingyas be given a proper opportunity to seek refugee status in India • The cases registered against them should be withdrawn immediately, considering the circumstances they are fleeing • The women should be housed in a shelter home instead of the correctional home • The Indian state must urgently evolve a policy on the status of Rohingyas and provide them the facilities to live as refugees in India • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is granted access to those who are imprisoned so that they can be given assistance Yours Sincerely, ………………. PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO: 1. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson National Human Rights Commission Manav Adhikar Bhawan Block-C, G.P.O. Complex, INA New Delhi-110023 Email: cr.nhrc@nic.in 2. Smt. Sushma Swaraj Minister of External Affairs South Block, Cabinet Secretariat,  Raisina Hill, New Delhi, 110 011 Tel:23011127, 23011165  Email: eam@mea.gov.in 3. Shri K.K. Sharma Director General Border Security Force (BSF) HQr DG BSF, Block No. 10  CGO Complex, Lodhi Road,  New Delhi-110003 Tel: 011-24364851 Email: edpdte@bsf.nic.in 4. Mr. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Case Postale 2500 CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt Suisse Ph: +41 22 739 8111 Fax: +41 22 739 7377 Email: indne@unhcr.org 5. UNHCR Chief of Mission in India B-2/16, Vasant Vihar, 110057 New Delhi, India Tel: +91 11 2469 4256 Fax: + 91 11 4353 0460 Email: indne@unhcr.org Thank you. Urgent Appeals Programme Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)