UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein had on Monday criticised any attempts by India to deport Rohingyas to Myanmar, while speaking at the opening of a Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
Zeid had also referred to the killing of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh in Karnataka recently, saying she had “tirelessly addressed the corrosive effect of sectarianism and hatred.
Responding to the UN human rights chief’s remarks, Ambassador Rajiv K Chander, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Geneva, stressed that India has always guaranteed freedom and rights even under challenging conditions.
“We are perplexed at some of the observations made by the High Commissioner in his oral update. There appears to be inadequate appreciation of the freedoms and rights that are guaranteed and practised daily in a vibrant democracy that has been built under challenging conditions. Tendentious judgements made on the basis of selective and even inaccurate reports do not further the understanding of human rights in any society.”
While stressing that India too is concerned about illegal immigrants, Chander added that New Delhi, however, cannot ignore security concerns.
“Like many other nations, India is concerned about illegal migrants, in particular, with the possibility that they could pose security challenges. Enforcing the laws should not be mistaken for lack of compassion,” he stated.
— India at UN, Geneva (@IndiaUNGeneva) September 12, 2017
Also today, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh stressed that India will continue to maintain a tough stand on illegal immigration.
“We have adopted a humane approach towards migrants and displaced people. But we are strongly against illegal immigration,” Singh said in Jammu.
“We have been holding discussions over illegal immigrants. Some action will be taken,” he added.
Earlier this month, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, had stated that Rohingyas were illegal immigrants and stand to be deported.
He had further asked everyone to refrain from preaching New Delhi on the matter as India had absorbed the maximum number of refugees in the world.
Speaking yesterday, Zeid said, “I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country.”
Zeid had separately referred to the violence against Rohingyas in Myanmar as “ethnic cleansing”.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted Rijiju had reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention it “can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion”.
“However, by virtue of customary law, its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the obligations of due process and the universal principle of non-refoulement, India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations,” the UN human rights chief said.
The violence in Myanmar began in August when Rohingya militants attacked police posts in Rakhine, killing 12 security personnel. The military said it responded to the attacks and denies it is targeting civilians.
More than 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since then.