Response by Indian NGOs and Burmese Refugee Organisations to the increase in violence against Burmese Refugees in New Delhi
Posted by crcnewdelhi on May 20, 2010
Recently a lot of national and international outrage has been expressed over the violent crimes against Burmese refugees living west Delhi slums and villages over the past three months. While there is no doubt that this is an overall increase in crime in these areas, due to lack of knowledge of local languages, refugee status in the country and dire economic status, the Burmese refugee community is being viewed as a particularly vulnerable target for criminals.
As the attacks increased to an almost daily basis, the blatancy of the criminals, lack of response from the police and the hesitation of the victims to approach local authorities, a number of friends and supporters from Indian NGOs together with active members of the Burmese refugee community rallied together to take effective action.
As a first step, we have held meetings with the chief officers of the seven main police stations under whose jurisdiction these areas fall. We have appraised the officials of these police stations of the existence of Burmese refugees and the discrimination and violence that we face. A written memorandum demanding increased police patrolling, effective investigation and follow-up of cases and overall assistance to victims were also submitted.
Although few police officers seem uninterested about Burmese or refugees cases, the overall response from the police has been positive in the sense that they have accepted the situation and pledged their full cooperation in cases that have been reported. The exercise also proved fruitful as it was an opportunity for the Burmese community leaders to introduce ourselves and represent our community before the local police. Furthermore, the presence of Indian NGOs was a strong show of support to a people who are otherwise seen as defenseless and unprotected.
Further to this first round of action with larger authorities, we also plan to hold brief training sessions with the Burmese refugee community and organizations in order to raise awareness regarding Dos and Don’ts for one’s safety, correct legal channels to pursue in different situations and knowledge of their rights with regard to the police and the law. We will also be distributing small booklets containing important contact numbers for police, NGOs and hotlines which refugees can use in times of need.
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