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Rohingya Muslim children attend religious school at a refugee camp outside Sittwe, Myanmar May 21, 2015. Picture taken May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTX1E0IX

India’s traditional refugee policy shows why it’s unlikely to give Rohingyas sanctuary

Editor's Note:

This article first appeared in The Print on September 30, 2017.

The Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has attracted global attention, concern, and condemnation over the past several weeks. India, while being both critical and supportive of the government of Myanmar, has been quick to respond with assistance to displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh.

But the crisis has also raised questions about India’s approach to refugees, specifically the 40,000 Rohingya that have entered the country in recent years. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has called them “illegal immigrants” who “stand to be deported,” but he subsequently clarified that there was not yet a plan for their removal. Such attempts might be complicated by a Supreme Court ruling against the deportation of asylum-seekers on the basis of the right to life and personal liberty. Moreover, because many Rohingya are effectively stateless, and not recognized as citizens by Myanmar, their forced repatriation could become problematic.

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