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Myanmar refugees in India apply for asylum




Police officers who defied the orders of the Myanmar military to shoot opponents of the coup and escaped to India have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to grant political asylum on humanitarian grounds.

“What we want is that until and unless the problem in Myanmar is resolved, we don’t want to go back there,” said one of the men, who has taken refuge in a village in the northeastern state of Mizoram that shares the same border with Myanmar.

Military action in Myanmar has forced dozens of refugees across the border to India. India’s state and federal authorities have not provided figures, but some ministers have said the number could be in the hundreds.

An Indian village has sheltered 34 police personnel and a firefighter who crossed India in the past two weeks.

Several Myanmar police officers say they fled after defying the army’s orders to shoot opponents of last month’s coup.

Police officers who fled Myanmar play table tennis in Mizoram, a state bordering Myanmar
Police officers who have fled Myanmar play table tennis in Mizoram, a state bordering Myanmar (Anupam Nath / AP)

One of the defectors of the Myanmar police, who did not share her name, told the AP news agency that the Myanmar military ordered them to “arrest, beat, torture the protesters” and that they were “always sent to the front if there was protest “.

“So we have no choice but to leave our country,” she said at a secret location on the border with Myanmar.

The AP has not been able to independently verify their claims, although images and reports of the crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces have shown an increase in violence against civilians. Since the military takeover on February 1, more than 200 people have been killed by security forces.

The Federal Government of India and Mizoram State are at odds with the influx of refugees. Previously, Mizoram’s government had allowed refugees and provided them with food and shelter.

But last week, India’s Interior Ministry told four Indian states bordering Myanmar, including Mizoram, to take measures to prevent refugees from entering India, except on humanitarian grounds.

Protests in Tarkata Municipality, Yangon, Myanmar
Protests in Tarkata Municipality, Yangon, Myanmar (AP)

The ministry said states were not empowered to grant refugee status to anyone entering from Myanmar, as India has not signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol.

On Thursday, Zoramthanga, Mizoram’s top elected official, wrote to Mr. Modi said, “India cannot turn a blind eye” to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in its state.

Using one name, Zoramthanga wrote in the letter that the people of his state, who share ethnic ties with the refugees from Chin communities in Myanmar, “cannot remain indifferent to their plight.” He urged the federal government to reconsider its order and allow refugees into India.

Earlier this month, Myanmar asked India to return the police officers who crossed the border. India shares a 1,020 mile border with Myanmar and is home to thousands of Myanmar refugees in various states.

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