India to deport refugees to Myanmar, despite UN concern

04 October 2018
India to deport refugees to Myanmar, despite UN concern
New Delhi, India. Photo: EPA

Indian police said Wednesday that seven Rohingya detained in the country's northeast will be deported to Myanmar.

The United Nations had warned India that returning the men ignored the persecution they faced in Myanmar, and would be a "flagrant denial" of their right to protection.

But police in the northeast Indian state of Manipur, where the men have been incarcerated since 2012 for immigration violations, said the Rohingya would be deported Thursday.

"The seven Myanmarese men will be deported tomorrow," Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, a senior state police officer, told AFP.

The UN Special Rapporteur on racism, Tendayi Achiume, said she was "appalled" at the amount of time the men from Rakhine state in Myanmar's west had been detained.

Rakhine was the epicentre of a Myanmar army offensive that over the past year has driven 700,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh.

Myanmar's army has denied nearly all wrongdoing, insisting its campaign was justified to root out Rohingya terrorists.

Nearly 200 Rohingya are known to be detained in India on charges of illegal entry, Achiume said.

The deportations follow an Indian government order last year to return the Rohingya. The Supreme Court is still considering a petition challenging the order on the grounds it was unconstitutional.

Achiume said India risked breaching its international legal obligations by returning the men to possible harm.

"Given the ethnic identity of the men, this is a flagrant denial of their right to protection and could amount to refoulement," the law professor said in a statement.

New Delhi has described the Rohingya as a security threat, pointing to intelligence it says links the minority group to extremist organisations. 

The UN says there are 16,000 registered Rohingya in India, but many more are undocumented. New Delhi puts the figure at 40,000.