The Government of India announced that it will be deporting almost 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who are living in the country ‘illegally.’ Though India is not violating any international laws by doing so, even then; the decision is saddening.
It is a valid point that, legally India has no obligation to keep the refugees in its territories as it is not a signatory of the ‘1951 United Nations Status of Refugees Convention.’ However, on humanitarian grounds that is no reason to deport a people, who face atrocities by its government back in its homeland. These people have nowhere to go and the decision to deport them is reprehensible. India talks about becoming a superpower. Being a superpower is not just about having the largest economy or the strongest military, it is also about being on the front lines when a situation such as this arises. The decision makes India and Indians look very petty-minded. We need to start acting like one if we really want to be a ‘Super power.’
Yes, the government of India indeed has accepted refugees in the past from Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. It is also true that we have our own people who live in destitution. But the issue is that the government is turning away people who have already been accepted and settled in the country and these people have tried to overcome the trauma that they have lived through; and have tried to overcome it in the few years that they have lived here. It will be all for nothing. It will be going back to square one for them as they will have to look for a new home in this increasingly ‘closed border’ climate. I strongly believe that this decision has to be revoked.
Even though we are not part of the UNHCR Status on Refugees Convention, we should definitely honor it. If we can honor something like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty by declaring to not use Nuclear weapons first, even after not signing it (the NPT). Then we can definitely try to follow the Refugees convention. This is beyond politics, this is beyond nationalism, this is simple humanity.