Mizoram starts issuing identity cards to Myanmarese refugees
- The Myanmar government has started issuing identity cards to Myanmarese refugees who have taken shelter in the northeastern State following the military takeover of the neighbouring country in February last year.
- The identity cards will be valid only in Mizoram and will facilitate speedy and easier identification of the refugees, besides preventing them from enrolling in the State’s voters’ list.
Myanmar refugees and the card
- Besides showing basic information about the refugee concerned, the identity card mentions that the holder is taking shelter in Mizoram on humanitarian grounds.
- Most of the refugees are from Myanmar's Chin state and share ethnic ties with Mizos.
- A majority of them live in refugee camps, while others reside with their relatives or in rented houses.
- The district administrations have been tasked with issuing the identity cards.
- Different districts have started the process on separate dates, while some districts are yet to begin the exercise.
- At least 29,532 people from the adjoining Chin State of Myanmar are said to have crossed over to Mizoram, fearing a military crackdown.
- The Mizoram government favours providing refuge to the Chins that are ethnically related to the majority Mizos in the State.
- However, the Ministry of Home Affairs has made it clear that “India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol theron”.
1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol
- A United Nations multilateral treaty that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum.
- Grants certain rights to people fleeing persecution because of race, religion, nationality, affiliation to a particular social group, or political opinion.
- India is NOT a member.
- Sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals.
- Also provides for some visa-free travel for holders of travel documents issued under the convention.
- It builds on Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries.
- A refugee may enjoy rights and benefits in a state in addition to those provided for in the Convention
- The 1967 Protocol included refugees from all countries as opposed to the 1951 Convention that only included refugees from Europe.
- Today, the 1951 United Nations Convention and the 1967 Protocol together remain the foundation of refugee protection, and their provisions are as relevant now as when they were drafted.
Arrival of the refugees
- Mizoram began feeling the heat a month after the military coup when three police personnel crossed over to Lungkawlh village in Serchhip district.
- The influx of Myanmar nationals was reported from Hnahthial, Champhai, Saitual and Serchhip districts.
- Most of the refugees waded across the Tiau River that runs along much of Mizoram’s 510-km border with Myanmar.
Porosity of the border
- India and Myanmar share a 1,643 km border and people on either side have familial ties.
- Mizoram shares 510-km.
- Manipur shares 398-km.
- Arunachal Pradesh shares 520 kms.
- Nagaland shares 215 kms
- The border along the four states is unfenced and porous.
Free Movement Regime:
- A Free Movement Regime (FMR) exists between India and Myanmar.
- Under FMR every member of the hill tribes, who is either a citizen of India or a citizen of Myanmar and who is resident of any area within 16 km on either side of the Indo-Myanmar Border (IMB) can cross the border with a border pass (with one-year validity) issued by the competent authority and can stay up to two weeks per visit.
- United Nations Refugee Convention 1951
- Location based questions
Q. Myanmar crisis has both direct and indirect implications on Indian culture, Polity and Economy. Discuss.