Citizens Committee Manipur calls on the state govt and Centre to fulfill their constitutional and human rights obligations
NEW DELHI — Citizens Committee Manipur (CCM) has welcomed the judgment of the Manipur High Court on Monday upholding the human rights of seven Myanmar nationals, who have entered India to travel to New Delhi and seek protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Pau Khan Thawn (journalist), Cing San Lun (journalist), Si Thu Aung (journalist), Niang Go Man and minors Nang Sian Mung (10 years), NangKhan Hau (9 years) and Dim Sian Huai Nuam (5 years) fled Myanmar following the military coup in February and consequent upon their media and news service Mizzima being banned. They had been hiding at Moreh until they were brought to Imphal as per an order of the High Court on April 20.
The High Court observed that even though India is not a party to the UN Refugee Conventions, it is a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). The court pronounced: “The far-reaching and myriad protection afforded by Article 21 of our Constitution, as interpreted and adumbrated by our Supreme Court time and again, would indubitably encompass the right of non-refoulement.” [“Non-refoulement” is the principle under international law that a person fleeing from persecution from his own country should not be forced to return].
The CCM hailed the courage and determination of human rights advocate, Nandita Haksar and her husband Sebastian Hongray who have selflessly invested time, financial resources and energy to defend the rights of these asylum-seekers.
In a statement, CCM Convenor Babloo Loitongbam said that his organisation continues to be deeply concerned about the plight of the other thousands of Myanmar nationals taking shelter in the bordering villages of Manipur without any support and protection other than the hospitality and warmth of poor villagers.
Loitongbam said that during the last two weeks, the citizens of Manipur have responded with utmost magnanimity to the appeal of the Humanitarian Sub-Committee of CCM. This has made it possible to provide some basic needs such as food, clothing, medicine and utensils to four villages in Kamjong district, three villages in Tengnoupal district and three villages in Churachandpur district covering more than five hundred refugees. But this private humanitarian effort is not enough to meet the growing needs on the ground.
“The CCM, therefore, strongly urges the Government of Manipur and the Government of India to take the constitutional and human rights obligations to protect these hapless persons more seriously in line with the judgement pronounced by the Hon’ble High Court today. They should also consider giving unhindered access to the UNHCR to offer their mandated humanitarian services” the statement added.