MORAL AMBIGUITY ON THE ROHINGYA
21, May 2019
Prelims level : International (IR1C) Mains level : Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations (GS2Q)
Why in News:
- India must break its silence on the gross human rights violations by Myanmar
- India’s abstention from voting on a UN Human Rights Council draft resolution, on the “situation of human rights in Myanmar” needs closer examination.
- Co-sponsored by the European Union (EU) and Bangladesh, the resolution “expresses grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar”, particularly in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, and calls for a full inquiry into these by the Council’s own mechanism and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
- What is deeply unfortunate is India’s continued diplomatic and moral passivity on the
- Despite the Myanmar Army facing charges of serious war crimes, including genocide — according to a UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) and several other international human rights organisations — India refuses to take a strong moral stand for the sake of maintaining cordial bilateral relations with Naypyidaw.
- There was no reference by India to the excessive and arbitrary force used by security forces on Rohingya civilians in response to the “extremist violence”.
- India is one of Myanmar’s top arms suppliers, and weapons sales includes military aircraft, artillery, naval vessels and reconnaissance equipment, armoured vehicles, anti-submarine torpedoes and missiles. Whether Myanmar is using some of its India-supplied weapons to maim non-combatant civilians in Rakhine State and other ethnic regions is a question that New Delhi has not asked so far.
Through Dhaka’s lens
- India has so far refused to exert any pressure on Myanmar, instead choosing to balance ties with Dhaka and Naypyidaw by sending humanitarian aid to both. But India’s soft, backfoot approach is being increasingly seen by Bangladesh, which is hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees, to be tilted in Myanmar’s favour.
- It is clear that if India continues to tacitly favour Myanmar at international forums, its much- valued bilateral ties with Bangladesh may suffer greatly.
- India has deported (or refouled) more than a dozen Rohingya refugees from its own territory back to Myanmar, in violation of international and domestic legal norms.
- Using the geo-economic leverage that it enjoys with Myanmar, India could compel Myanmar to bring the alleged perpetrators of war crimes to book or at least get a guarantee that such conduct would not be repeated in the future
- For now, India is happy to be in a stable, but morally tenuous, friends-with-benefit relationship with Myanmar. The victims continue to be the stateless Rohingya.
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
- It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system
- It is responsible for promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
- It was created by UNGA on 15 March 2006 by adopting resolution 60/251 to promote human rights globally.
- It had replaced former UN Commission on Human Rights. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.