Citizens Committee Manipur (CCM) said it “heartily welcomes” the judgment of the High Court of Manipur pronounced on Monday by the Chief Justice in W.P. (Cril) no. 6 of 2021, upholding the human rights of seven Myanmar nationals, who entered India secretly, to travel to New Delhi to 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, Nang Sian Mung (10 years), NangKhan Hau (9 years) and Dim Sian Huai Nuam (5 years) fled Myanmar following the military coup in February 2021 and consequent upon their media and news service Mizzima being banned, according to a press release of CCM issued by its convenor Babloo Loitongbam.
The statement also said that these Myanmar nationals had been hiding at Moreh until they were brought to Imphal as per an order of the High Court on April 20, 2021.
The statement then said that, even though India is not a party to the UN Refugee Conventions, the judgement insisted India is a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and 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 to be forced to return].
CCM also applauded 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 the meantime, CCM said it “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 the poor villagers. It further stated that in the last two weeks, the “generous citizens of Manipur” responded with utmost magnanimity to the appeal of the Humanitarian Sub-Committee of CCM, and this has made it possible to reach some basic needs such as food, clothing, medicine and utensils in four villages in Kamjong district, three villages in Tengnoupal district and three villages in Churachandpur district covering more than five hundred refugees. “But this local private humanitarian effort is grossly inadequate to meet the growing needs on the ground,” it added.
CCM therefore “strongly” urged the Government to 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 High Court on Monday. “They should also consider giving unhindered access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to offer their mandated humanitarian services,” CCM added.