Indian court allows deportation of seven Rohingya to Myanmar

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Correspondents say India hopes to enlist their help in acting against militants in India's north-east, many of whom are based in Myanmar's jungles. The seven men being sent back had been held in prison since 2012 for illegal entry.

Defense attorney Prashant Bhushan said the government should treat them as refugees, not as illegal migrants, and send a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to talk to them so they would not be deported under duress.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine State on Myanmar's western coast for years, often caught between the military and Rohingya insurgents who have fought a bloody war for years.

India on Thursday deported seven Rohingya immigrants, who have been staying in Assam illegally, to their country of origin Myanmar, in a first such move with regard to the people from the Rakhine province of the neighbouring country.

The U.N. statement also said that conditions in Myanmar were not "conducive for safe, dignified and sustainable returns for Rohingya".

India's top court is hearing a petition filed on behalf of two Rohingya Muslims challenging a government decision to deport the ethnic group from India.

Thursday's expulsion marks the first such move by India and comes at a time when some of the country's local media have been picking on the Rohingya as troublemakers, engaged in everything from petty crime to acts of terrorism.

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The Rohingyas are a Muslim Indo-Aryan population living mainly along the west coast of Myanmar.

The Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar, are settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan. From decades they have been denied participation in government jobs, education, health facilities by the Burmese government.

They had been taken from Assam to Manipur on Wednesday to be deported to their home country.

United Nations officials have described the Myanmar military's action as ethnic cleansing.

In a bid to counter China's influence in the region as part of its "Look East" policy, India has deepened its security ties with Myanmar in recent months, and welcomed Myanmar's army chief Min Aung Hlaing this July to the country to discuss security in the border region.

"The Indian government has an worldwide legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them with the necessary protection", the UN's Special Rapporteur on racism, Tendayi Achiume, said in a statement.

"The Indian government has an worldwide legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalized discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection", the UN's Special Rapporteur on racism, Tendayi Achiume, said in a statement. Moreover, she added that India has an worldwide legal obligation to provide these people with the necessary protection.

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