Mahendra P. Lama--Conflicts and Refugees in South Asia

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Mahendra P. Lama--Conflicts and Refugees in South Asia Powered By Docstoc
					       Conflicts and Refugees in South Asia :
Emerging Newer Dynamics in International Relations

                Prof Mahendra P Lama
                    Vice Chancellor
                   Sikkim University
              (A National University established
                  by an Act of Parliament)
                  Gangtok, Sikkim, India

         E Mail :
             Website :

                  11-12 February 2009
            Refugees in South Asia
   Country             Nos. ‟ 000 Principal
                                   Places of Origin
Bangladesh           22.17          Myanmar (100 %)

    India          169.54      Tibet (34.4%)
                               Sri Lanka (36.9 %)
                               Myanmar (11%)
                               Afghanistan (8%)

     Nepal           130.94       Bhutan (84%)
                                   Tibet (16%)

  Pakistan 2198.8 Afghanistan (100%)
          World                12.029 Million
                % of                 20.94
             South Asia (2.52 Million)
             Success Stories In South Asia

           ** Tibetans in India and Nepal :
150,000 Quietly and tightly integrated into these societies

       **  East Pakistanis (Bangladeshis) in India
                10 million refugees came
           to Eastern and North Eastern India
      on the eve of Liberation War in Bangladesh.

          ** Afghan Refugees In Pakistan
  Successful management and repatriation continues

   More recently : Chakmas successfully repatriated
                    to Bangladesh
         from India : : Peace Accord of 1997.
  None of them have ratified 1951 UN Conventions and 1967
                    Protocol on Refugees

   I        Why these EXODUS : most fundamental question ?
             Constitute citizens from across the board.

       Causes widely vary : Conflict and Violence key features

                    (1) Political independence
(2) Human rights violation : social discrimination & de-citizening
    (3) Economic alienation : poverty, forced land colonisation
                         and landlessness
(4) Religious persecution, cultural discrimination
             and population transfer

(5) Environmental dislocation : high dam projects,
       desertification and natural disasters.

        (6) Cross border aid and abetment

   (7) Interventions by extra regional powers :
       strategic goals & political constituency
           Factors that sustain conflicts
              Complex and Diverse :

  Retributive spirit against the heavy clamp down
               by the state authorities

   Mobilization of newer generation of fighters,
                 Diaspora support

        Engagements of terrorist groups in
              commercial ventures

International nexus and coalition of terrorist groups
          Tactics and fear and persecution.
         Conflicts have undergone
         large scale transformation

      More fierce and more recurrent.

         "Destructured conflicts" or
            "low intensity wars"

Have killed more people than by the conflicts
       created by geo-political rivalry.
                      Sri Lanka

  Clashes between the majority and the minority
                 74 % Sinhalese
     and 12.6 % Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka
And Prolonged complaints of systematic deprivations

          #      Secessionist movement :

          LTTE for Independent Homeland
              for Tamils of Sri Lanka

# Large-scale killings by the terrorist force like LTTE

          Exodus of Sri Lankan Tamils to
          South Indian State of Tamil Nadu

        Excessive unpaid Community Labour and
                dismal food security :

# Army actions : “Operation Nag Min” by Myanmarese army
     # Armed clashes between State Law and Order
          Reconstruction Council (SLORC) and
      Arakanese Rohingya Islamic Front in Myanmar;

        Exodus of Rohingyas from Rakhine areas
              of Myanmar to Bangladesh.
      Cry for development autonomy since British period
                  by Chakmas in CHT region

          •Displacement by development projects :
               •Kaptai Dam Project (1957-62)

  #      Demographic alterations : Conscious attempt by
       Govt. to make them a Buddhist minority in CHT :

Incentives to Bengali Muslims from plains to settle in CHT
              Deployed military to enforce this.

       Result : Demographic composition sharp change

            1951 Hill people 90.9 % -- Bengalis 9.1 %
            1991 Hill People 51.5 % -- Bengalis 48 %

           Dilution of ethnic identity

#      Search for Democratic space in Bhutan
                by Lhotsampas
    Constituted 50 percent of the population.
         Imposition of cultural values,
        practices and code of conduct :
    Zonkha language, Kho and Kira dresses.

     Instruments : Citizenship Act 1985 and
            Population Census of 1988.
             State Repressions led to
      large scale exodus in 1989-93 to Nepal
Heightened Cold-War and foreign invasion :

  Soviet intervention in Afghanistan 1979
    and resulting prolonged civil strifes

   Bombing and fighting, fear for life and
      obstruction on livelihood :

 Arming of rebel groups like the Mujahiddin
               and Talibans

Huge Exodus of Afghans to Pakistan and Iran

         They are in various camps :

 Teknaf-Cox‟s Bazar area in Bangladesh,

        Jhapa in Eastern Nepal

Peshawar, Chitral and Quetta in Pakistan;

Tamil Nadu , Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura ,
 Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka in India

India does not produce refugees of Mass exodus variety.
        Trickle variety : also not very noticeable.

        Very construction and nature of border

        Entire South Asia region is India centric

           Large Scale Internal Displacement

 Religious discrimination, killings, lootings, extortions,
        open call for social ostracisations and
                 physical expulsions :
                   „Internal refugees‟
     Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley of J &K
              4,00,000 Kashmiri Pandits
       (95 per cent of their original population)
         have left Kashmir valley since 1990 .

Live in abysmal conditions in Jammu , Delhi and Mumbai

             Similar emerging situations :

               North East region of India
      (Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Assam )

         Left extremism and Maoist violence
     Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar,
     Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh
          Cost of Refugees to Host Countries

   I Tamil Refugee induced Indian action in Sri Lanka
“IPKF Operation” of 1987-1990 was not only utter failure
  Now considered as a major diplomatic misadventure.
                 Only strengthened LTTE.
     Major fall out : dastardly killing of Rajiv Gandhi
                       in Tamil Nadu
         Allegedly by the LTTE in May 1991 on
              home ground of Tamil refugees

           II Massive Deforestation in Nepal
Nepal : highest deforestation rate of 4 % in South Asia.
      Large scale intrusion into forest areas for
      both fuel and timber purpose. Protest and
        clashes with the locals and authorities.
       III Bangladesh : many Rohingya refugees
                 resisting repatriation .
      They have joined right wing political groups
            Serious law and order situation :
            Nayapara and Kutupalong camps.

      IV Staggering Cost of managing refugees.
UNHCR alone has spent over $ 1 billion : Pak. Programme.
   Vital fall out : sharp rise : drug addicts in Pakistan
   People involved : narcotics trade- Sharp increase
            UN Drug Control Program Report :
               50 percent of the World supply
        80 percent of European supply of heroin
                      from Afghanistan
            with a street value of $30-40 billion.
                More serious :
    Nexus between Politicians and Drug barons

 Afghans came along 3 million heads of livestock
exhausted the grazing land in NWFP and Baluchistan

     Pakistan infested with open arms bazar.
  Afghan refugees injected “Kalashnikov Culture”
  Worst : Afghan Mujahiddins- LTTE link spread
       their pernicious designs in Kashmir
    with Harka-tul-Ansar, Nagaland with NSCN
              and Assam with ULFA

  Kashmir (1988-97 recovery): 19000 AK-47 rifles,
  5,500 anti-tank missiles, 29000 hand grenades.
VII     The Plights of Returnees : Afghanistan :

  Ultra conservative interpretation of Islam :
          Harsh regulations imposed
  by Taliban particularly on Women: Edicts :

             No education for girls
           No employment for women
            No music, no kite flying,
      Compulsory visits of Mosques on Friday
       @ Harsh working conditions for
           UN Agencies and other
  humanitarian organisations : Even detained
European Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs.

  @ It has the largest collection of land mines
               (over fifty varieties)

   ICRC reported grazing land accounted for
      75.6 % and agriculture land 20.2 %
        of mine areas. So resettlement
              is a Herculean task
                      Myanmar :

    •Integration programmes under UNHCR with
 UNICEF, WFP, WHO and NGOs on skill development,
      health care, education, rural infrastructure
                    & food for work.

Insecure : most of them not given citizenship by state.

             So no entitlement to lands
            which they previously owned.
                    Bangladesh :
       Hill Watch Human Rights Forum (HWHRF)

 Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord December 1997 :
                  all refugees returned.
Little improvement of the human rights situation in CHT.

           Key provisions not implemented.

Only 29 camps out of about 500 military camps in CHTs
             withdrawn since December 1997.
        Army continues to commit human rights
     violations against indigenous Jumma people.
       No Real pressure on Bhutan
        Re-examine refugee report: US
 “ US government : concerned about absence
          of guarantees provided to
Bhutanese refugees returning to their homeland”.

  Bringing people from the North and settling
        them down in the South & East
     in places earlier owned by refugees.

     UNHCR is facilitating the third country
    Settlement of an overwhelming majority
                  of refugees
       Maoist party launched in Bhutan :
    Situation Today in South Asia

         Strong Protest and

  Whenever host has felt intrusion
     into its indigenousness

Hidden losers concept fast catching up

        Compassion Fatigue

             Aid Fatigue
        Situation at the Global Level

           Withdrawal Syndrome

Clear cases : UNHCR and donor agencies :
      withdrawing humanitarian support
        to various refugee situations.

Afghan refugees : literally dismantling camps
      And asking the refugees to live
           Bhutanese refugees :

    Emphasis on : Local Integration and
        third country settlement
                There is a pattern

Developing countries are talking about : millions

   Developed countries are mentioning about
          Taking few hundreds refugees
Securitisation and harmonization of refugee policy

     How do we create a global community
         When there is total rejection

    Withdrawal from even human assistance

       They construct a „global apartheid‟.
  1995 : 30,000 refugees accepted by developed
     countries as part of global resettlement

     Resettlement: narrow prism of protection
         Broader Perspective should be :
           international burden sharing

            Closing Down the Gates :

         widespread automatic detention
               of asylum seekers,
           denial of social assistance

        restriction on access to employment
practice of restrictive and disowning asylum policy
■ Restrictive visa policies and carrier sanctions

■ Demarcation of international zones in airports
  ■ Safety Zones within countries of conflict
    ■ Narrow interpretation of principle of

          ■ Safe third country concept
     ■ Offshore Camps : rights free zone :
           Guantanamo Bay was used
  by the US to hold Cuban and Haitan refugees

      ■ Internal Flight alternatives (IFA)
      ■ Regional conventions and Treaty
         to restrict them collectively
         The debate is about the
     Movement of Natural persons under
        World Trade Organisation :
             legal migration

Where is the debate about the forced migration
            and responsibilities of
        world community at large and
    Developed countries in particular ?
Non-accession to International Refugee Instruments

           Varying reasons : varies from
         politico-bureaucratic sensi-tivities
              towards UN intervention,

     perception of Convention being abused
                and disregarded
   by developed nations for their political ends

 to question of ability to meet various obligations
due to economic constraints and also the perception

That these instruments being product of cold war.
Prefer dealing with refugee issues bilaterally.

          Widely prevalent perception
    states which have signed Convention :
     are seen to be derogating from those
  provisions whenever it suits their interests.

 Absence of permanent institutional structure
       to oversee issues of refugees,
     grant of refugee status has been at
     discretion of politi-cal authorities.

Rejected refugees on narrow political grounds.
      Reduced status of fleeing humanities
           to political arbitrariness.

  Present situation calls for evolving a clear legal
framework for refugee management in South Asia.

 Pakistan gives refugee status only to Afghans.
 By not signing they are rejecting refugees
      in narrow political grounds say

Tamils are taken as refugees depending upon
 which party is there in power in Tamil Nadu.

 Bhutan : India being first country of refuge
               Did not accept

  Violation of principle of non-refoulement,

     Refugees were purely a local issue.
         No constitutional provisions,
 so Govts deal with refugees on an ad hoc basis

       Refugees have been used as pawns
                in regional geo-politics
But, if India signs, probably others will follow suit
        Absence of a formal legal structure,
      Courts particularly Supreme Court and
  National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
                      have played
          proactive and constructive roles
            Regional level :
 SAARC can play an instrumental role :
   formulating a regional convention
       on refugee management.
   Like Organisation of African Unity (1969)
        Cartegana Declaration (1984),

SAARC already has four conventions viz.,

      Food Security Reserve (1987),
    Suppression of Terrorism (1987)
             Narcotic Drugs &
    Psychotropic Substances (1993).
   Trafficking of Women and Children
               Lessons to be learnt

I      Twenty years of fierce civil war and violence
      a new generation of people has emerged
              with very little education,
            strong weapons training and
        no memory of life in a peaceful State
               Distinct failure of State
    Irreversible process of social disintegration

   Recent : US led retaliation in Afghanistan
          This time its not Soviet Union
  US is fighting its own covert or overt creation
Challenge is complex and Goal not clearly defined
Impact on hapless refugees : dangerously poised :
 Between human miseries and blatant violations
           of even simple human rights
       and total disintegration of tribalism
              Afghanistan :
      Handling and interventions on
        refugee situation demands
  comprehensive policy and neutral stands.

Politico-military goals should be marginalised.

         Unlike last two decades where
               Refugees were made
            i)   instrument of politics,
        ii)    cause for arms supply and
    iii) vehicles of drugs trafficking and
         iv) used as resistance group,
This time it requires a long term thinking
      and prolonged reconstruction
          effort in Afghanistan.

    Failure to do so will only generate
 a fresh set of alliances and alignments
  against “partnership of retaliation”.

     This will be more vicious and
       spiteful than last round.
  II   Foremost : unbiased understanding
         and objective assessment
           of a refugee situation.

     A total management of refugees :
        implies political management
  to ensure repatriation and resettlement.
      One cannot leave entire process
           of refugee generation,
management and resolution half way through.

       This is most shattering lesson
              we have to learn.
 III Politicization of refugees in camp sites
              are very deleterious

        Once politicised, process of
    depoliticisation is almost impossible
        Enormous violent resistance
      from within and outside camps.

            Politicisation attempt
   fragmentation of refugee population
    Leads to weakening of community
         living and collective voice.
        Country of origin takes full
manipulative advantage and political mileage
  E.g Lhotsampas refugees from Bhutan.
IV      If refugees : forced to remain in camps
            for a prolonged period of time
             With suffocating conditions
     e.g. restrictions on physical movements

      Young generation that grow up
new generation that emerge in refugee camps
    become a direct victim of protracted
         human rights violations.

               Process of isolation,
            limited social contacts and
          total delinking from their roots
make them vulnerable to any alternative option
    where they can get more open space.

   Invariably, options available or provided
          are anti-state and violent.

  Refugee community and their helplessness
       come into direct clash with forces
that they think are responsible for their plights.
     V International mobilization of resources
            both physical and financial
   for management of refugees should be done

         Severe burden on host country

   Needs to be looked into from all perspectives

Particularly when host country has never managed
      refugee influx of such a huge magnitude
                 and diverse variety.
     Actually sheer sense of physical burden
   and a feeling of intrusion that ultimately weigh
      against continuous hosting of refugees

        Even on pure humanitarian grounds.

 Pakistan remained one of most generous hosts
Have literally closed its gate in last couple of years.

          Besides security implications,
             primary reason for such
               an action was again
       both „compassion‟ and „aid‟ fatigues.
        VI    South Asia : invariably State or
            extra-territorial forces/agencies
Create situations triggering massive exodus of people

   Afghanistan : Surviving super power US also quit
refugee camps as soon as its „national interest‟ was met.

         This action fully exposed facade of :
                  “strategic interest”,
        “genuine concerns for Afghan people”
          “reconstruction of Afghanistan” ,
     “repatriation and rehabilitation of refugees”

  Had it not been ghastly event of 11 September,
US would have possibly permanently disengaged itself
                 from Afghanistan.
VII    Larger question that arise again is responsibility
          and accountability of super power (s)
                      in terms of :

  first creating a situation of humanitarian concern
and management and resettlement of affected mass.

      Where is implementation of international norm
          that check such “unilateral attitude”
        and “devastating action” all in name of
          pursuing goal of national interest ?

           Where is that international body and
                agency that could book
            countries that are responsible for
          generation of a millions of refugee ?
        Unless we find answer to these questions,

South Asia will continue to be host of millions of refugees
        as compared to “chosen few thousands”
                   in West and North.

Mere ratification of 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol by
             West and North could hardly ensure
            their responsibility and accountability.

 This has only made all encompassing international norms
             a matter of convenience to a large
              extent a super power led farce.
              Globalisation Implications
Reforms , Liberalisation, Privatisation, Globalisation :
                   key words today :
      Emphasise about increasing demolitions
               of borders and barriers.

      National security considerations and other
              non-traditional compulsions
       terrorism, migration, trafficking of drugs,
          arms and women and girl children,
              environmental degradations
      demand increasing border regulations and
               closing down of borders.
          India and Nepal :
 traditionally an open border regime,

   First time : increasingly regulated
because of movement of Maoists forces
       and elements of terrorism.

   This is likely to be the case with
         India- Bhutan border

  Likely increase in clashes between
         forces of globalization
  and the countervailing State forces
      Expectation : Globalisation will lead
          to higher economic growth
and reduce poverty and mitigate human miseries
               It is not happening

      Number of people below poverty line
              have sharply increased
   Inequality of income has further widened.
                Poverty clusters :
    distinct spatial and demographic identity
       clashes and conflicts are inevitable.

      Major pockets of conflicts emerging
 3 Maoists movement in Nepal :
Large scale movement of people to India
        and other countries

  4   Bangladesh : State vs State
       Bangladesh : Migrants
      serious clashes in Assam
         inter-state conflicts
   Three Layers of Conflicts
      state vs state conflicts
     state vs group conflicts
    group vs group conflicts

Many other regions of the World
      Similar Situations
Governments lack administrative,
   military, legal, institutional,
     or political capacity to

      Handle the situations
   How prepared is the
   global community ?

   How committed is the
global governance system ?
Thank You

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