India prime minister Narendra Modi will visit Myanmar next week and discuss the exodus of the Rohingya ethnic minority with Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, the foreign ministry said Friday.
The two-day visit comes as renewed violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state forces thousands of Rohingya Muslims to seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh, with many drowning as they attempt to cross the border river in makeshift boats.
The stateless ethnic minority are reviled and accused of being illegal immigrants in Myanmar, with thousands fleeing to Bangladesh and on to other countries including India, which this month announced plans to deport some 40,000 Rohingya from the country.
Modi will arrive in the capital Naypyidaw on Tuesday on his way back from China where he will be attending the BRICS summit, which also includes Russia, Brazil and South Africa.
“We will be discussing how India can help them in addressing the situation that is prevailing in the state,” Sripriya Ranganathan, a senior official in India’s foreign ministry, told reporters.
“Lot of countries are impacted… but ultimately it’s for the government of Myanmar to address the situation,” she said.
Rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called on New Delhi to reconsider its plan to deport the Rohingya, saying it should abide by its international obligations.
But Ranganathan said, “in so far as illegal immigrants are concerned there is a long standing and established procedure on the basis of Indian law which we will continue to follow, there is absolutely no change.”
Despite being home to thousands of refugees, India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.