UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) voiced “great concern” for the safety and security of seven Rohingya men who have been sent home by Indian authorities, after reportedly being denied access to lawyers, or full consideration of their asylum applications.
“[We] continue to seek clarification from the authorities on the circumstances under which these individuals were returned to Myanmar,” said Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for UNHCR, to journalists at the UN Office at Geneva on Friday.
The deportation of Rohingya refugees took place as the UN Secretary General Antonio Guteress was visiting India last week.
Prior to their return, the men were moved from Silchar prison in Assam province, near the border with Bangladesh — where they had been in detention since 2012 — to the province of Manipur, bordering Myanmar.
“On learning of their detention and the planned return, and based on credible reports that the seven men are Rohingya, UNHCR requested the Indian authorities to grant access to this group, to assess their need for international refugee protection,” he said .
According to the UNHCR spokesperson, they did not receive a response to their request and was unable to secure access for a lawyer from a state legal service.
Former UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, described the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar as “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.