Amid the ongoing Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, the United Nations on Monday reprimanded India for its bid to deport Rohingyas who have taken shelter in the country.
A top UN human rights official said that India cannot carry out collective expulsions or return people to a place where they risk torture.
“I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said while addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The statement comes amid reports that the government plans to deport thousands of Rohingyas who have fled violence in Myanmar.
Some 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation, he said.
“The Minister of State for Home Affairs has reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention the country can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion,” Hussein added.
Further, noting India’s obligations under international law, Hussein said, “India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations”.
The UN official also came down heavily on the Myanmar government, saying that the situation there is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
“Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” he told the UN Human Rights Council.
“I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population. I strongly urge the authorities to allow my office unfettered access to the country,” he added.
The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said the latest violence may have left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Rohingya.
A further 27,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also fled violence that has gripped northernRakhine, where international aid programmes in Rakhine have been severely curtailed.
“Gauri Lankesh, a journalist who tirelessly addressed the corrosive effect of sectarianism and hatred, was assassinated last week. I have been heartened by the subsequent marches calling for protection of the right to freedom of expression, and by demonstrations in 12 cities to protest the lynchings,” he said.