The Myanmar holds its important position in India’s Act East policy as it enjoys rich mineral resources, historical and civilization ties and strategic location, and sharing land borders. The Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, however, become a serious security issue not only for Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh but also for the whole region. The PM Modi is in Myanmar currently and it is expected that the Rohingya refugee is likely to come up amid his talks to solve this issue over bilateral and regional security.
They have serious security inferences for Southeast and South Asia have shown their weaknesses, letting many terror groups take on. The ethnic cleansing campaign in Myanmar has been on since June 2012, as per the Human Rights Watch Report 2017. The violence against the Rohingyas has become very serious and extensive one. Coming to the operations carried by the government security forces against Rohingyas, it has led to serious violations of human rights, including mass killings, ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests, rapes, third-degree tortures and other sexual violence. Adding to it, they are also going through various restrictions like marriage, employment, education and freedom of movement. As the government does not allow humanitarian agencies to provide them basic necessities like food and medicines, the Rohingyas have been experiencing from many diseases like malnutrition.
Almost 120,000 Rohingyas have been relocated in the various Rakhine state camps and to neighboring countries since the violence began in 2012. A UN official was quoted saying on Tuesday that at least 123,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border into Bangladesh in the last some days, 30,000 of them crossed in just a 24-hour period. The Rohingyas militants attacked the border police on August 25, 2017, killing 71 people, including 12 security personnel in Rakhine state. The Rohingyas, on the other hand, accused the security forces of firing “indiscriminately” and not even sparing “babies”. In 1997, Myanmar was added as a full member of ASEAN. Besides it, the leadership of the country’s military junta had not attended ASEAN meetings or summits.
In order to focus on promoting human rights among the member-countries, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) created the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights in 2009. During the Phnom Penh ASEAN Summit in 2012, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) was drafted and collectively approved. It has 40 articles covering six categories: General principles; civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; the right to development; the right to peace; and cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights. To promote multilateral engagements with Southeast Asia, India had introduced the Look East Policy in the 1990’s. The Look East Policy has been constantly followed by the successive governments and has paid huge dividends as well. PM Modi visited Myanmar soon after assuming the office in 2014 and he also focused on the Indo-Pacific region by developing and covering more areas of regional multilateral engagements.
The major purpose of AEP is to encourage the 3C’s (Commerce, Connectivity, and Culture) through regional, bilateral and multilateral meetings with various nations in the Asia-Pacific region. This policy has paid huge dividends, increasing the quantum of trade with ASEAN in 2016 to $70 billion. In 1996, India became a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). There is no doubt in that the terrorism and radicalization have been impacting the region and has a huge challenge for regional safety. India is planning to co-host a counter-radicalization conference in 2017 to take the strategic cooperation of ASEAN countries in checking his twin afflict. The common link between India and ASEAN is Myanmar.
India’s good relations with Myanmar are an important precondition for the victory of AEP. As both the countries share good relations and close geostrategic ties, the issue of Rohingyas could become a bilateral pain. As a result, the Rohingyas refugee issue may be said as the humanitarian crisis and attempts were made by both the sides to resolve the matter. The main issue is that the Rohingya refugees had fled to various countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, India, and Bangladesh. Almost 40,000 Rohingyas are still living in India, as per the reports. The home ministry officials have met to discuss on the arrest, identification, and deportation of “illegal” Rohingyas under the Foreigners act. However, The Indian human rights agencies have criticized the government for taking the decision of sending back the world’s most persecuted community.
We know that the Rohingya matter is an internal issue of Myanmar and has serious regional safety implications, but it also needs to be looked at from the humanitarian point of view. Despite the fact that India is not a signatory to the AHRD, having connected with the ASEAN at many levels, PM Modi could ring a bell to Myanmar of its commitment to AHRD and promote the leadership to get a sensible decision of the matter.