Indian State of Manipur Withdraws Order Turning Away Myanmar Refugees

The northeast border state of Manipur in India has withdrawn an order that told local authorities to “politely turn away” refugees from Myanmar who were crossing the border to seek refuge after the coup.

Special Secretary (Home) Gyan Prakash of the Manipur state government said that the order issued last March 26 had been “misconstrued and interpreted differently.”

Prakash said the government has decided to withdraw the order “to avoid this misunderstanding” after drawing criticisms.

“The state government has been taking all humanitarian steps and had recently taken all steps, including taking them to Imphal, to treat the injured Myanmar nationals. The state government continues to provide all aid,” Prakash wrote in a second order last March 29.

The earlier order also prohibited local authorities to set up food and shelter camps for the refugees, though it had said those with “grievous injuries” may receive medical attention on “humanitarian considerations.”

The earlier order also directed that the enrollment of the refugees in India’s national biometric ID scheme called Aadhaar “should be stopped immediately and Aadhaar enrolment kits taken into safe custody.”

The earlier order came three days after three Myanmar citizens were evacuated to a hospital in Moreh, the last border town of India, The Indian Express reported.

There are no official estimates on how many citizens of Myanmar have crossed the border since the Feb. 1 coup, but a top state bureaucrat estimated the number to be at 700, The Indian Express reported.

The number of refugees is expected to rise as security forces in Myanmar continue to clash against anti-coup protesters with increasing violence.

According to human rights organization Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the Myanmar military has killed 521 people as of March 30.

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