Moreh, Manipur, India – Seven Myanmar nationals, including three journalists from a Yangon-based media house, travel to New Delhi on Monday to visit the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ‘s India office after a court in the northeastern state of Manipur ordered security.
The seven Myanmar nationals had been “hiding” in the border town of Moreh in Manipur’s Tengnaupal district for weeks following the court’s interim protection.
The seven are among hundreds of Myanmar nationals, including police, military personnel and members of the legislature, who sought refuge in the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram after fleeing a brutal crackdown following a military coup on February 1 this year.
Many of those who have fled are members of the anti-coup Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which has been protesting the restoration of civilian rule in Myanmar.
More than 5,050 protesters were killed in the crackdown, despite reports that ethnic armed groups continued to fight the military government.
In their order on Monday, Manipur High Court judges differentiated between immigrants and refugees seeking asylum.
“They did not enter our country with a clear plan and intent to violate our domestic laws. They fled their country of origin in the face of impending threats to their lives and liberties, ”the judges said.
Citing Myanmar media coverage, the judges said, “There is no doubt that these Myanmar people will face a huge threat to their lives and freedoms if they return to the banned Mizima media organization.”
They asked the government, “This court deems it reasonable and appropriate to provide protection to these seven Myanmar nationals under Article 21 of the Constitution and to give them safe passage to New Delhi to get adequate protection from the UNHCR,” they told the government in a new speech. For convenience.
Veteran human rights lawyer Nandita Haksar filed the petition on behalf of seven Myanmar nationals, claiming that their Assam-Rifles, a paramilitary force guarding the Indo-Myanmar border, could be sent back to Myanmar.
The seven include Sit Thao Aung, 43-year-old video journalist Chan Sun Lun, web designer Pau Khan Than, a webmaster, his wife and three children.
Haqsar, quoting a letter from the Indian Home Ministry on March 10 in the border states of Myanmar and Assam Rifles, instructed to check the arrival of “illegal immigrants” from Myanmar.
The letter said India was not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 Protocol and was therefore not obliged to grant asylum to Myanmar nationals.
Haksar told Al Jazeera on Monday that they would soon catch a flight to New Delhi.
“They wanted to go to Delhi and hopefully now they will get UNHCR certification,” he said, adding that the agency insisted on the presence of applicants in the city to process their asylum claims.
Than and his wife took refuge in India during the Saffron Revolution in Myanmar in 2007, and Huxer’s plea and court order. They returned after the situation in Myanmar returned to normal.
The Saffron Revolution of 2007 was a massive series of protests, fueled by rising fuel prices but soon turned into a movement against military rule. Buddhist monks were at the forefront of the protests, hence the name saffron in the context of their clothing.
As the situation in Myanmar deteriorated in March this year and the military began cracking down on disgruntled journalists, Thaun packed their bags to flee with his family and colleagues.
After a two-day bus journey and a short trek through the mountains, we crossed seven borders and reached Moore on 22 March.
“A media outlet was closed. The military began arresting members of the media, “Aung told Al Jazeera, describing the circumstances of his escape. He claimed to be on the Army’s Wanted Journalists list and said there was a warrant against him.
Aung and his colleagues covered the aftermath of the coup in February. “We were streaming it straight,” Aung said.
On March 7, the military revoked Mizima’s publishing and broadcasting licenses.
So Mayant, the founder of Mizima, emailed Al Jazeera from an undisclosed location, saying: “They raided our main broadcasting headquarters in Yangon in March and took what they found.
Mint said he was also active in the 1967 pro-democracy uprising against the military government, which was ruthlessly crushed by them. In 1990, he was one of two people involved Hijacking A Thai Airways plane that diverted to Kolkata, India.
The two claimed that the police allowed them to speak at a press conference to let the world know what was happening in Burma (formerly Myanmar).
Mint later founded Mizima News Agency in New Delhi in 1998 where he lived as a refugee.
Mint said three Mizima journalists were arrested in February and March, and three other former employees, including co-founder and Mint’s wife, Thin Thin Aung, were arrested on April 8.
Meanwhile, the small border town of Moreh is set to play host to more than a thousand citizens of Myanmar, mostly in the sagging department who have witnessed deadly clashes between protesters and the army.
According to Jangman Haosip, president of the Hill Tribal Council, a community organization representing a community of local tribes living in this part of Manipur, the town of Tamu has been quiet for the past few days across Moreh.
“But people are still terrified. They don’t want to go back, ”he said. “The center and the state should do something for these people.”
Locals complained that the state government did not provide any assistance and left it to community agencies to take care of Myanmar citizens.
The number of Myanmar nationals seeking asylum in neighboring Mizoram has risen to more than 3,000, according to local community organizations.
The order of the Manipur High Court has raised the hopes of many of these Myanmar nationals that they can take refuge in India.
Bernard El Changte, president of the United for Democratic Myanmar NGO, an umbrella group of more than 20 local civil society groups involved in helping Myanmar’s citizens in Mizoram, said they were studying the court order and considering the next steps.
“It may be noted that although there is no clear refugee protection policy or structure in India, they provide shelter to a large number of refugees from nearby countries. India generally recognizes the UNHCR’s status of such asylum seekers, mainly from Afghanistan and Myanmar.
Haxar hoped that India would grant asylum to “real refugees.”
“The significance of this order is that the High Court differentiates between refugees and immigrants. This is a very important difference. Any refugee will be able to take advantage of that order, ”he said.