In a marked shift of stance, India on Saturday called for restraint on the part of the Myanmar government to end the violence in Rakhine state – days after New Delhi dissociated itself from a joint statement by the World Parliamentary Forum in Bali that included a reference to human rights in Myanmar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his support for the NLD governments crackdown on terror groups in Rakhine during his visit to Nay Pyi Taw.
“India remains deeply concerned about the situation in Rakhine state in Myanmar and the outflow of refugees from that region,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement in the evening.
“We would urge that the situation in Rakhine state be handled with restraint and maturity, focussing on the welfare of the civilian population alongside those of the security forces,” the statement said.
“It is imperative that violence is ended and normalcy in the state restored expeditiously.”
Earlier this week, an Indian parliamentary delegation, led by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, refused to be a part of the Bali Declaration adopted at the World Parliamentary Forum on Sustainable Development held at Nusa Dua in Indonesia, in a show of support for the Suu Kyi government just hours after Prime Minister Modi ended his bilateral visit.
“This was in view of the fact that the declaration, which was to be adopted at the conclusion of the Forum, was not in line with the agreed global principles of sustainable development,” said a press release issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The Bali Declaration, which was joined by India’s neighbours Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, had expressed concern about the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where the UN says at least 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed, and 300,000 have fled to Bangladesh in the past two weeks.
The declaration had “called on all parties to contribute to the restoration of stability and security, exercise maximum self-restraint from using violent means, respect the human rights of all people in Rakhine State regardless of their faith and ethnicity”, as “there can be no sustainable development without peace”.
The MEA in its statement on Saturday said: “We had earlier strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on Myanmar security forces in Rakhine state.”
“The two countries have since shared their determination to combat terrorism and not allow its justification under any pretext.”
“During Prime Minister’s recent visit to Myanmar, he had expressed his concern at the casualties of security forces as well as other innocent lives.”
“He had also urged a solution based on respect for peace, communal harmony, justice, dignity, and democratic values,” it stated.
India also offered development assistance in Rakhine in cooperation with the Myanmar government.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi, in a joint address to the media in Nai Pyi Taw with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, said that India shared Myanmar’s concerns over the Rakhine situation but did not mention anything about alleged human rights violations against the Rohingyas, tens of thousands of who have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, with many thousands spilling over to India.
“We are partners in your concerns over the loss of lives of security forces and innocent people due to the extremist violence in Rakhine state,” Modi said.
The latest exodus began on August 25, after Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts in Rakhine, leading to a violent offensive by the Myanmar Army.
India also faces the problem of Rohingyas fleeing into the states bordering Myanmar. The government has said it would deport all Rohingyas living in India illegally but the Supreme Court has said that it will hear on September 11 a plea seeking a direction to the central government not to deport about 40,000 such refugees back to Myanmar.