Taking Sides in Myanmar

by the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

We Indians believe a lot in savings, we store gold in bank lockers, invest in Fixed Deposits from our hard-earned money for the rainy day in the future. Relations, be it at an individual or a larger level, are built with similar objectives in mind. Friends, family members, neighbours after all are expected to help each other in tough times.

Given the situation in Myanmar, which is spiraling out of control day by day and inching towards a civil war, it will be judicious for the Indian government to not deport refugees back to Burmese military. Myanmar has historical ties with India; we share a lot more than boundaries with each other. Cultural and religious ties of the past have shaped our relations so far. Though we have a policy of non-interference towards each other but, in the light of our confrontation with China in the recent past and the problem of insurgency in India’s North-Eastern part, it’d be difficult to sit on the sidelines this time when the streets of Yangon are erupting into protest and violence.

Military in Myanmar will find it difficult to hold on to power this time. With the internet, modern technology, and wider communication and engagement with the outside world, it’d be difficult for the Burmese army to suppress the voices of its citizen. As protests will spread, the military will resort to harsher means of crushing the dissent and will see an increasing number of refugees at our borders asking for help and shelter. Even if we are motivated by our own selfish interests, we should not turn these people away. At the least, we should not deport those who will face persecution on return by the Military junta. It will give us considerable goodwill with the people of Myanmar, should the democratic government return to power in Yangon. Having friendly neighbours gives us leverage in countering China and its supported elements.

Then there is the question of Rohingya and Chin refugees, the latter are not much talked about. The apprehensions of security involving Rohingya can be addressed if they can be rehabilitated in their country under the guarantee of safety. Though it is a long process and fraught with difficulty, it is imperative that we have a friendly and responsive government in Yangon. Even if we do not want to jeopardize our relationship with the military junta but let us not send those seeking shelter to the slaughterhouse by deporting them. Even if for our own selfish vested interests, let us be magnanimous and open our doors to those who need help.

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