India opposes ICC probe on forced Rohingya deportation
Although the leaderships of both countries often describe each other as close friends or allies, India is yet to lend its support to Bangladesh in international forums to help solve the protracted Rohingya crisis.
This lack of support from India regarding the Rohingya crisis has led many people in Bangladesh to believe that Myanmar is more important to India than Bangladesh, due to India’s economic interests and efforts to win a race for geopolitical supremacy against China.
So far, the Indian contribution to helping Bangladesh tackle one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises has been confined to providing relief materials and urging to solve the problem.
Recently, India once again demonstrated its unwillingness to support Bangladesh when it abstained from voting on a resolution for an independent international mechanism to probe abuses in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on March 22.
India also opposed any probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has already initiated a preliminary inquiry into the forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas from Rakhine.
Given the past instances, especially after the latest exodus of Rohingyas since August 2017, the position of India at the UNHRC is not surprising at all. Be it at the UNHRC or the fifth committee of the United Nations General Assembly, New Delhi has never voted for Dhaka in any resolution regarding the Rohingya crisis. However, Bangladesh may get some consolation from the fact that India has also never voted against any resolution since August 2017.
Serving and former diplomats, as well as international experts, consider the Indian position as a balancing act, failing to differentiate between rights and wrongs. They are also of the opinion that India prefers Myanmar over Bangladesh, due to economic and geopolitical interests.
Indian policy regarding the Rohingya crisis has always favoured Myanmar.
In the first week of September 2017, when unprecedented atrocities against Rohingyas were being carried out in Rakhine by Myanmar security forces, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Myanmar on a visit. The leader of the largest democracy in the world did not even condemn the atrocities, which were described by the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.
Amidst the untold suffering of the Rohingyas, the Indian government initiated a move to deport members of the persecuted community, but the Supreme Court of India halted the move. About 40,000 Rohingyas live in different parts of India.
However, New Delhi has deported some Rohingyas living in the Indian state of Assam, ignoring calls from the international community.
The repeated requests of the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar to visit Rohingyas in India were not answered by the government in New Delhi.
Like the Myanmar government, India also does not call the persecuted people Rohingyas, which is another example of New Delhi’s bias towards Naypyidaw.
Understandably, the government in Dhaka is not happy with the Indian position. Although the political leadership has not said much in public, they have expressed their frustration over India’s unwillingness to support a just cause in private.
The government is aware that there is growing feeling among the people of the country that India does not do as much for Bangladesh as Bangladesh does for India, and more and more people are blaming the government for failing to gain India’s support. This sense of dissatisfaction is not something the government wants.