Research Assignments of Ninth Annual Orientation Course on Forced Migration 2011

Module A     /    Module B     /    Module C    /    Module D





Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): Definitions and New Issues in Protection

(Research Assignments)     


Participants opted for this module A should submit a research report/article (within 4000 - 5000 words with end notes on any one of the following themes:

1. Are there any basic differences between the refugees and IDPs? Argue your case with suitable illustrations.

2. What is meant by the phrase “mixed and massive flows”? Write an essay on the emerging juridical discourses in view of the massive and mixed flows of displaced persons.

3. Examine the new protection strategies that may be applied to the cases of protracted displacement referring to some concrete cases.

4. Attempt a review of the resettlement and rehabilitation policies of the IDPs in your own country/province.


Author: Kalyan Pokhrel

Abstract : The refugee problems is the common phenomenon of South Asia. It is resulted as a result of socio, economic, cultural, political, religious, linguistic divide with the region. There is not common consensus between and within the countries of the region that how the refugees issues have to be addressed. Consequently, the countries are being handling and treating the refugees on an individual case so that they have made the discrimination between and within the refugees. It has shown the double standard of the hosting countries towards the refugees. As a result, the human rights of similarly situated refugees are violated. Due to the social, religious, linguistic, cultural, tribal etc. composition of South Asia and past experiences, we can say that this region have to face more refugees problems, so that it is urgent for the countries of this region to set up the regional level new legal and institutional mechanism to address the problems and resolve the humanitarian crisis resulting therefrom the flow of the refugees. In addition, the International communities, non-governmental organizations, civil societies, and academician must pressurize the countries to give up their dilemmas and ratify international refugee conventions so that they are compelled to adopt uniform policies towards the refugees; as a consequence it is possible to minimize the grievances of the refugees to some extent.

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

  1. First of all, you should add a tentative title to your proposed study. Second, you need to add examples from your own country while dealing with the normative issue you wish to take up.

Title: Psychosocial protection strategies for Bhutanese refugees in Nepal


Author: Ram Prasad Dahal


Abstract :The majority of refugees from Bhutan arrived in Nepal in the early 1990s, following an enforcement of restrictive and discriminatory citizenship laws in Bhutan, and were recognized on a prima facie basis by the Government of Nepal in 1993. Since then, the Government of Nepal, UNHCR and other agencies have been providing basic humanitarian assistance and international protection to 107,608 refugees from Bhutan living in seven refugee camps in Jhapa and Morang districts of eastern Nepal.

Refugees represent a group of people that are generally prone to mental health and psychosocial problems due to the experiences and conditions that they have been forced to go through. Problems of refugees are often understood as primarily material and/or physical, reduced to the need for material goods and physical safety. In reality, complex psychosocial processes of destruction (trauma, loss, existential uncertainty) are involved. Severe and lasting psychological after-effects have been extensively documented among refugees in general, as well as specifically among the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety), and have indicated the increased need for attention to the mental health of Bhutanese refugees. The socio-political context of the refugee experience is associated with refugee mental health. Humanitarian efforts that improve these conditions are likely to have positive impacts. Available research calls for integrated mental health and psychosocial care for refugees before, during and after resettlement/migration. Psychosocial/mental health care should be an integral part of the health care delivery system/structure and quality services should be both available and easily accessible. With the exception of monthly visits by a psychiatrist to deal with the most acute or chronic mental health problems, there has been no structure or system to address the psychosocial/mental health needs of the high-risk population of more than 100,000 refugees in the Bhutanese refugee camps as of end of 2008[1].

Transcultural Psychosocial organization (TPO) Nepal has been adopting the following psychosocial protection strategies for the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal: Individual Counselling and Group Interventions, Awareness Raising, Policy Development, Research and Capacity Building. These strategies are both aiming to offer support to refugees in the refugee camps, as well as to those preparing to resettle to the third countries. 

In this research paper, focus will be on best practices in psychosocial support to refugees based on the experiences of TPO Nepal, implementing partners and the refugee community leading to recommendations for effective psychosocial protection strategies for victims of protracted displacement.    

Information will be collected through interviews and focus group discussions with service providers as well as recipients, reports, literature and experiences with TPO Nepal's psychosocial care package.

This paper can then be utilised as a reflection document for both TPO Nepal and implementing partners, as well as other humanitarian organisations aiming to provide psychosocial support to refugees or IDPs in protracted situations. 

Sources to be consulted include UNHCR publications and articles provided by MCRG.


[1]  Sub-project Description between TPO Nepal and UNHCR, 2011


Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

  1. It is a good proposal. The way you are proposing to examine the best practices with regard to the mental health of the refugees in Nepal is challenging. However, a quick glance at some literature on similar studies would add value to this study. Moreover, you should continue your research in the broader context of new protection mechanisms adopted for the protracted refugee situations.

Title: Juridical Discourses on Mixed and Massive Migration Flows


Author: Christoph Tometten


Abstract: The increasing mixed and massive nature of migration flows challenges well-established international protection systems, especially for refugees, unaccompanied minors and trafficked persons, as virtually no state is disposed to award equal protection to all migrants indiscriminately1.

In my paper's introduction, I will give a brief definition of mixed and massive flows based on international sources and scholarly thinking. Mixed flows can be defined as “complex population movements including refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants and other migrants” (IOM), and massive flows can be understood as the arrival of „a large number of displaced persons, who come from a specific country or geographical area“(EU Temporary Protection Directive), the required number depending on the resources of the receiving state2.

Then, in a first part, I will describe the legal and political framework regarding mixed and massive flows. On an international level, I will focus on the approach taken by the UNHCR (the 10-Point Plan of Action on Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration; temporary protection and minimum standards of treatment3; prima facie recognition on group basis4) and the IOM (comprehensive approach to migration management5), before analyzing the national implementation of this approach, with a focus on the European Union. The analysis of state action will address the interpretation of nonrefoulement6, policies on externalization of asylum procedures7 and border security issues8.

In a second part, I will consider critical voices regarding both the approach taken by international agencies and its implementation. That includes criticism of UNHCR's involvement with reintegration activities which tends to justify the states' quest for a system of containment9, and fears that progress in human rights is jeopardized by a securitarian approach10. I will conclude with a look on alternatives and solutions, mentioning concepts such as axiological asylum11, global freedom of movement 12 and an analysis of borders detached from sovereignty13.



1 Ranabir Samaddar, “Power, Fear, Ethics”, Refugee Watch n° 14, June 2001; Ranabir Samaddar, “The Cruelty of Inside/Outside” in: Pradip Kumar Bose (ed.), “Refugees in West Bengal” (Calcutta: MCRG 2001), pp. 200-204; IOM, MC/INF/294, p. 2.

2 Guy S. Goodwin-Gill and Jane McAdam, “The Refugee in International Law” (New York: Oxford University Press 2007), p. 335; Michael Barutcisky, “Les dilemmes de protection internationale des réfugiés” (Paris: 2004), p. 295.

3 UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion N° 28(c), 1982; Barutcisky, op. cit., pp. 290-291.

4 UNHCR/IPU, “Refugee Protection – A Guide to International Refugee Law” (Geneva: 2001), pp. 53-54.

5 IOM, MC/INF/297, pp. 1-2.

6 Goodwin-Gill/McAdam, op. cit., pp. 218-232, 336-339.

7 Jérôme Valluy, “Rejet des exilés” (Bellecombe-en-Bauges: Croquant 2009), pp. 277-321; UNHCR, “The State of the World's Refugees 2006” (Geneva: 2006), pp. 38-39, 60.

8 Willem van Schendel, “The Bengal Borderland” (London: Anthem Press 2005), p. 212; Dialogue on Mediterranean Transit Migration, MTM i-Map Expert Meeting, Irregular and Mixed Migration, January 2010, p. 3.

9 Michel Agier, “Protéger les sans-État ou contrôler les indésirables: où en est le HCR?”, TERRA Reflets, January 2006:; Michael Barnett, “Humanitarianism with a Sovereign Face: UNHCR in the Global Undertow”, International Migration Review, Vol. 35 n° 1, Spring 20, pp. 244-277; Alison Crosby, “The Boundaries of Belonging: Reflections on Migration Policies into The Twenty-First Century”, Refugee Watch n° 29, June 2007, p. 31; Goodwin-Gill/McAdam, op. cit., p. 288.

10 Kemal Kirisci, “Reconciling refugee protection with efforts to combat irregular migration: the case of Turkey and the European Union”, Global Migration Perspectives n° 11, October 2004, p. 3; Ranabir Samaddar, “The Marginal Nation” (New Delhi: Sage 1999), p. 19.

11 Valluy, op. cit., pp. 371-372.

12 Schendel, op. cit., p. 383; Diana Wong, “The Rumour of Trafficking”, in: Willem van Schendel and Itty Abraham (eds.), “Illicit Flows and Criminal Things” (Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2005), p. 70; GISTI, “Liberté de circulation: un droit, quelles politiques?”, January 2011.

13 Wong, op. cit., p. 89.

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

  1. I believe that the proposed research can indeed produce a valuable article on the issue.

Title: “People with their heads in their bags“[1]: A review of the resettlement and rehabilitation policies of the IDPs in Croatia


Author: Drago Zuparic


Abstract: Situation of persistent violent conflicts during the 1990-ies in the region of Western Balkan has produced vast number of displaced population within and across the borders of home countries and territories. The war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, accompanied with conflict war-like activities in southern Serbia and Macedonia, even nowadays in Kosovo, are still triggering important questions of political stability and security, moreover the issues of refugees and IDPs protection and return policies. Republic of Croatia had taken big responsibility of handling the IDPs population reaching the peak at the end of 1991. (cca 550.000), but from then on that number has been decreasing (210.592 by the end of the war in 1995). Today almost 99% of IDP population (a big majority of them as ethnic Croats) has been resettled and rehabilitated in their home-places or areas of origin. As the result of the war, more than 200.000 Croatian Serbs, as displaced exilees and refugees, have involuntarily left/fled the country heading to Serbia (and to lesser extent to Bosnia). Nonetheless, up to date around 132.000 Serbs voluntary returnees to Croatia have been registered, and more than 75.000 are still waiting for repatriation.[2]  Thus, a „Programe for repatriation and resettle of IDPs, refugees and other displaced persons“, brought by Croatian government has had various success towards the processes of rehabilitation and reintegration of different categories of displaced persons.

In this resarch/review I present some of the main characteristics of rehabilitation and resettlement policies for IDP population in Croatia, concerning some important issues of legal status of returnees (citizenship and ownership/properties rights, housing, health and social care, education and employment), governmental and local policies and measures, which have been prescribed and implemented in order to secure sustainable IDP return and resettlement. By combining diverse mixed methodology approach (desk-study analysis, statistics, media content analysis, and ethnographic field work in one IDP camp) I bring in and introduce the broader situation in the Balkans but highlighting and focusing on the Croatian case towards experiences of displacement and resettlement.

In order to further the perspective on a perception of basic differences between the refugees and IDPs, in this paper I also discuss on some more recent processes in Croatian society related to asylum system and categorization of applicants/asylum seekers, and so called „new refugees” – i.e. asylum grantees (many of them coming from Asian and African territories, asking for protection). In the shifting of national borders, and changing of national paradigm I indicate how socio-legal status for some group of population (former neighbors and citizens vs. ‘new forced migrants’) alternate the way how they have been categorized by the state (from exilees to IDPs, refugees, asylees, returnees, repatriates and so on), and how these categorizations influence the policies of (re)settlement and rehabilitation towards them.


[1] This is just a working title, it is a word-play, a phrase, by meaning „to be insecure, endangered, without shelter“. Very often media image of IDPs and refugees is that of people carrying all their belongings in few bags.

[2] All the statistical data used here, are provided by Croatian office of UNHCR, and some by Ministry of interior statistics

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

  1. This is a very interesting proposal. However, you must be careful about the scope of your proposed article so that it does not move beyond your control.

Title: Relief and Rehabilitation policy of Assam for the victims of Ethnic violence in the year 1993, 1996 and 1998 in Chirang district of Assam and present status of camp inmates.

Author: Debdulad Deb






Since the Bodoland agitation started by the All Bodo Student Union (ABSU) and other organizations in the late 1980’s the communal front of the district was by and large fragile. During the early period of the agitation the Bodo community, who once regarded chirang (earlier this district is under Kokrajhar ) as their strong hold suddenly found themselves a minority . The resentment and grievance were ventilated in the form of communal feelings and as a result Bodo-Muslim and Bodo-Adivasi violence took occurred in October 1993, may96 and May1998. Near about 3568 families displaced in the year 1993, 42214 families in 1996 and 48556 families displaced in the year 1998 from their native place.

Each time after breaking out the violence, affected families took shelter in relief camps. But with return of normalcy, few families settle near Relief camp area. And most of the families are unable to go back. Because, most of their earlier lands have been taken over by other community, particularly the Bodos. In few camps, State Government gave a lump sum amount of Rs.10000 to few families and declared that camps have resettled. But in real sense, people have been living in camp for last 12 years. In most of camp hunger and poverty is driving many families and there is absolute lack of basic amenities. After 12 years, Government could not able resettle these relief people properly. No proper steps have taken by government in relief camp regarding health, education, and livelihood. Initially they distributed relief materials (like rice, dal, kerosene oil etc) in relief camps, but after one year they suddenly stopped distribution without inform anybody. In the year 2007, the situation forced to Adivasi community leader to fill a PIL to State High Court for proper rehabilitation with the initiative of local organization.


Situation Analyses


Last year, we got a reply of PIL from Principal Secretary (Revenue and Disaster Management Department)to the government of Assam regarding status of rehabilitation of ethnic violence victims. And it was came to know that state government along with local government  finalize a rehabilitation policy  and they prepared to give Rs. 50000/- per family (those family who were came in government record, in the year 1998.) as full and final rehabilitation grunt. The above mention rehabilitation amount has fixed by government base on decision of committees, which they formed itself. From January 2011, before Legislative Assembly Election, government started to distributed money to the camp inmates, So that ruling government can win Assembly seats by showing this.

But camp inmates were in much occurred position. Firstly, numbers of families have increased now, compare to the year 1998. Secondly, if they don’t accept this amount, they may lose chance to get fifty thousand later. Thirdly, they don’t have faith on government and for this they have been waiting for last 12 years. But they know very well that this money is not enough, even for purchase of a pair of cows. Few camps decided to take money what ever they got and most of are opposed it.


Objective of Study


1. My main objective of the study is to find out the latest status of camp inmates, especially woman and children.

2. The another objective is to see the status of families those who received Rs.50, 000/- as full and final rehabilitation grant especially woman and children

3. And the third objective is to know the opinion families about this rehabilitation policy.


Area of Study


Five relief camps in Chirang district of Assam namely Bengthol Relief Camp (already took Rs. 50,000/-), Santipur Relief Camp (already took Rs. 50,000/-), Runikheta (Rehabilitation process is in pipeline), Deosri Relief camp and Bengtol Relief Camp (Muslim community). Out of Five camps four are Adivasi Relief Camp and one is Muslim Relief Camp.




1. Qualitative study




1. Interview and FGD with camp leaders

2. Interview and FGD with women

3. Interview with Community organization (those organization who have been working for the camp inmates.)


Purpose of study


1.       To submit CRG as a participant of winter course, 2011.

2.       One of the purposes of my study is to help camp inmates so that they can use it as a tool of Advocacy.

3.    Secondly, it can be use as supporting document of PIL.

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

  1. This is an interesting idea. But, will you be able to do justice to all your research questions within the time limit? Moreover, you also need to contextualize your case study in a broader perspective on the IDPs.

Title: Review of Resettlement Policy - IDPs Resettlement in Northern Province, Sri Lanka

Author: Kengatharan Kamaleswaran

Abstract: After the 3 decades Arm Conflict, Government started the Resettlement in Nothern Province of Sri Lanka in end of 2010. Having progressed in the resettlement programme since September 2009, a total of 203,455 individuals of 105,930 families have returned to their places of origin from Vavuniya, Mannar and Trincomalee. 27,605 individuals had been released due on humanitarian grounds[1]. Further 10,252 individuals of 3,418 families were released from Jaffna Welfare Centres as at 08th September 2010.

Continuation of the accelerated resettlement has resulted in reducing the number of IDPs in Welfare Centers into 21,210 persons (6190 families) as of end of June 2011. This included of 12,689 (3,830 families) IDPs displaced after 2008 and 8,521 (2,360 families) protracted IDPs[2]. According to statistics available with the Government Agents in Jaffna, Mannar, Mullaithivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Puttlam, there are 105,543 IDPs in the respective districts 464,695 have returned to their respective places of origin.

According to the perspective of Human Rights & Humanitarian Organizations, Resettled Families are facing chains of Problems because of lack of Resettlement Policy or implimentation. Redressing the inequities caused by displacement and enabling affected people to share in the benefits of growth is not just possible but imperative, on both economic and moral grounds. Socially responsible resettlement - that is, resettlement genuinely guided by an equity compass - can counteract lasting impoverishment and generate benefits for both the national and local economy. Yet, much too often, those who approve and design programme causing resettlement are deprived of an 'equity compass' that can guide them in allocating project resources and preventing (or mitigating) the risks of impoverishment. In an attempt to help develop such an equity compass, this paper proposes (what are the)Q1 risks-and-reconstruction-oriented framework for resettlement operations. It argues against some chronic flaws in the policies and methodologies for planning and implementing resettlement and recommends necessary improvements in policy and in mainstream resettlement practices.

Because of this study, had planned to get overview of Present Resettlement Policy – Challenges which are facing by Returnees and successes and failures of ongoing process based on interviews (govt, I/NGOs and Returnees) and compare and contrast existing policies of Resettlement and find the gap – in order to conclude what can be done.


Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

  1. While assessing the resettlement and rehabilitation policy of the Government of Sri Lanka, you require putting it in a larger context of the legal protection mechanisms already in practice, including the UN Guiding Principles and the national initiatives in different countries. You also need to be cautious about your linguistic formulations.



Gendered Nature of Camps

(Research Assignments)     


Participants opting for this Module B should submit a research report/article (within 4000 - 5000 words) with end notes on any one of the following themes/questions:

1. What is the nature and magnitude of gender based violence in the refugee/Internally Displaced Peoples’ Camps? Discuss with suitable examples.


2. How has the governmental, non-governmental and professional medical and counseling fraternity responded to the situation?


3. Review the situation of refugee/IDP camps of your choice with focus on the protection strategies meant for women.


4. Examine challenges to the healthcare facilities available for the women sheltered in the refugee/IDP camps.


Title: The Rehabilitation and Protection of Women in the Tibetan Refugee Camps in India


Author: Shreya Sen


Abstract: Women have always been objects of concern in refugee movements around the world. This is because women usually constitute a very significant part of the population that is on the move. As Asha Hans states, women refugees experience gender specific violence and consequently have gender specific needs. In India , the Tibetan refugees were the first international group of refugees to be awarded refugee status by the Indian state following independence. As the Tibetans arrived in India in the year 1959 after the Chinese occupation of Tibet , the rehabilitation process was started. The Indian Government worked out methods by which these refugees would be rehabilitated. With regard to the Tibetan refugee women however, rehabilitation and protection were disregarded by the State as well as the refugees. In spite of such disregard, the Tibetan refugee women have managed to create for themselves new identities while in refuge. Polygamy and polyandry no longer exist in the Tibetan refugee camps. There now prevails, an increase in the participation of women in economic activities as well as a new gender equality.

My research is aimed at looking into the conditions of the women in the Tibetan refugee camps across the country and the policies that have been undertaken by governmental and non governmental agencies for improving their situation. I also intend to examine how the women in the Tibetan refugee camps have managed to create a niche for themselves despite the various adversities and obstacles that they have had to face and continue to face.

Title: “Women and the Adminsitration of Justice in Mae La Refugee Camp"


Author: Anna Purkey


Abstract: Refugees caught in protracted refugee situations, especially those involving long-term encampment, represent some of the most vulnerable people in the world. They exist in a legal limbo characterized by insecurity where, though their lives may not be at risk, their rights remain unfulfilled. As difficult as life is within these communities for any individual, refugee women face substantial additional hardships including among other things severe poverty and vulnerability to physical, sexual and economic exploitation and abuse at the hands of both their hosts and other members of the refugee community. These added threats are often caused by a number of different factors endemic to refugee camps such as the breakdown of traditional community and family support structures as a result of displacement, the lack of livelihood opportunities and the consequent creation of a system of perpetual dependence on external aid, restrictions on basic rights and freedoms,and the lack of access to effective legal status and protection.

A variety of different strategies can be employed to address the vulnerabilities of refugee women but one that has received comparatively little attention is the use of law as a method of empowerment and protection. In fact, the administration of justice generally in refugee camps has received little scholarly attention despite the fact that access to justice and the empowerment that stems from that access are powerful tools for the promotion and protection of human rights.           

In particular, legal empowerment is a way of giving refugees ‘voice’, or more accurately facilitating their finding their own voices.[1] Justice institutions, whether formal or informal, are fora in which the individual voice is amplified and listened to.[2] They are a potential stage where an individual can take control of and tell her own story, thus reclaiming her agency in the protection of her rights.

Based in part on fieldwork completed this last spring, this research paper will focus on the justice situation for Burmese women in Mae La refugee camp in Thailand in order to explore the importance of legal empowerment and access to justice for refugee women. In particular, it will look at the many challenges (sexual violence, cultural prejudices, etc.) that the female residents of Mae La camp face and how specific initiatives aimed at developing justice capacity within the refugee camp can change, and hopefully improve, the conditions for women.


[1] See generally Martin Abregu, “BarricadesorObstacles: The Challenges of Access to Justice” in Rudolf V. Van Puymbroeck, ed. Comprehensive Legal and Judicial Development: Toward as Agenda for a Just and Equitable Society in the 21st Century (Washington D.C.: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2001) at 53.

[2] See e.g. Abregu,supra note 1, at 53:“There is no doubt that to “give voice to the poor” – understood as protecting the weakest ones, within a rule of law framework – is in the very nature of the establishment of any law and institution.”

Title: Experiences of refugee Hill Women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts


Author: Ilira Dewan


Abstract: The indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts have a long history of being refugees. During the 1960s, a dam was constructed to generate electricity, which led to the creation of an artificial lake. As a result, around 40% of the fertile land of the valley was submerged, resulting in a large part of the indigenous population becoming instantly unemployed and homeless. Around 40,000 residents immigrated to India while around 20,000 left for Burma, and the rest became internally displaced. When the hill peoples were trying to piece together their lives after the Kaptai Dam, the War of Liberation ended and they were once again under attack from the Bangladesh military who carried out massacres to wipe out entire villages belonging to indigenous peoples.

After the change of political regime in 1975, the CHT situation has changed very quickly. Parbotto Chottogram Jono Shonghoti Shomiti (PCJSS) which is the main political platform in the CHT was banned. In contrast, the Government of Bangladesh started a process to rehabilitate Bangali settlers in the CHT. At that time PCJSS tried to resist the access of Bengali settlers into the CHT in several places.

The building of the Kaptai Dam, the War of Liberation, the discriminatory stand of the Government of Bangladesh, the armed insurgency by the Jummas, the demographic engineering by the Bangladesh military all led to mass exodus of Jumma peoples to India. The exodus led to the establishment of relief camps in the Tripura State of India. After the 1997 CHT Accord the Government of Bangladesh claimed that around 12,222 families including 64,609 Jumma peoples had migrated to India.

In the relief camps women and children were the most insecure. They had to adopt various strategies and coping mechanisms to get used to their new lives as refugees in a foreign land. The food rations received by most refugee families were never enough and as a result they had to devise other strategies to get food. Sometimes they would try to cultivate their own farmland across the hills. Sometimes they would try to make food products at home and sell them in the market. In short, their everyday lives were greatly changed by their refugee status.

In my research into forced migration of indigenous peoples from the Chittagong Hill Tracts I find out how many of the refugees have so far been rehabilitated and what the scope of this rehabilitation was – whether they have received health care and education as assured by the government and how many of them received their land back. Although it has not been possible for me to visit any of the refugee camps in India, I have carried out interviews with about a dozen women from three different age groups after their return to India . They have spoken in great detail about their lives in the refugee camps. Using the oral accounts from these interviews I identify the unique problems that were faced by these women in very adverse conditions. By identifying these problems I have compiled a set of recommendations for the Government of Bangladesh and policy-makers to solve the situation in the CHT and explain why it is crucial to implement the 1997 CHT Accord.

Title: Protection Strategies (Prevention & Response) meant for women in the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh


Author: Arij Bou Reslan


Abstract: The Rohingya ethnic minority of Myanmar is one of the most persecuted groups in the world. Stripped of their citizenship by the Burmese government in 1982 and forced to flee through violent military campaigns and sustained persecution, over one million Rohingyas now live in exile in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The Rohingyaof Burma is trapped between severe repression in their homeland and abuse in neighboring countries. Bangladesh has hosted hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fleeing persecution for more than three decades, but at least 200,000 Rohingya refugees have no legal rights there. They live in squalor, receive very limited aid and are subject to arrest, extortion and detention.

Today, only 28,000 are recognized as refugees with the Government of Bangladesh and live in Kutupalong and Nayapara camps. Registered refugees receive basic health services, primary education and food rations but about 5,000 of the camp residents were not properly registered and are barred from receiving food rations. Theestimated 200,000-400,000 Rohingyas, which include new arrivals and those who had returned after being repatriated, live in unofficial refugee settlements and local villages, mainly in Cox’s Bazar district. The Government only allows the UNHCR and NGOs to work with refugees living in the official camps and even lifesaving activities targeting unregistered refugees are not authorized.

Without any legal rights for unregistered refugee women, a climate of fear and impunity pervades the unofficial settlements reinforced by the lack of accountability and over-sight. Women are especially vulnerable, when they go outside the site for firewood or water as they are sexually assaulted, kidnapped, or raped. Inside the site there are reports of abduction of women and girls by local influential groups for sexual desires and forced marriages. There are also mixed men and women toilets as well as doors of washrooms are broken. Polygamy is also a common practice by refugees inside the site.

Sexual violence, early and forced marriages and domestic violence are endemic in both the host and refugee communities, but the stressful living conditions and the lack of access to the police or justice system and stressful living conditions for refugee women increase the risk of abuses. There are a high number of widows and women- headed households among Rohingya communities – estimated as high as 44% in Kutupalong makeshift camp – due to frequent arrests and work migration of male family members. Many women are forced to engage in begging and sex work and children are sometimes trafficked for domestic work in order to survive. Women are often reluctant to report sexual violence and need permission from their husband and local leaders to seek healthcare in the conservative, male-dominated society, which also severely limits the ability to provide much-needed support and raise awareness.

This research aims to answer the following questions:

1-      What is the currentprotection situation of Rohingya refugees inside and outside the official camps?

2-      What are the legalprotection procedures meant for Refugees, especially for the women?

3-      Are there any community protection mechanisms in place? If yes, what are they, and who is in charge?

4-      Are there any prevention and response mechanisms to protect women from abuse?

What roles Rohingya women play in protecting themselves?


Environment, Resources and Displacement

(Research Assignments)     


Participants opted for this module C should submit a research report/article (within 4000 - 5000 words with end notes or foot notes on any one of the following themes:

1. Discuss the issue of environmental challenges and displacement with a suitable case study of your choice.


2. Analyse the environmental and climate change debates globally between developed and developing countries vis-a-vis conferences held inCopenhagen, Cancun, etc.?


3. Discuss the link between resource crises and displacement with relevant examples.


4. Analyse any natural disaster case study (e.g. flood, cyclone, earthquake, tsunamis, etc) in the context of relief and rehabilitation policy.


5. Discuss the scope of integrating Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction with suitable illustrations.


Title: Discuss the link between resource crises and displacement with relevant examples.


Author: Shobha Raghavan


Abstract: The objective of this paper is to understand, from the affected people’s perspective, the issue of resource scarcity, lack of access to resources and how this affects marginalized tribal and forest dwelling communities. Through this paper, I would like to take the opportunity to put forth for discussion some case studies from people’s movements in India. For the discussion, I propose to look at a small tribal people’s collective in M.P and Chattisgarh (with whom I have engaged with personally) who work with primitive tribes, constantly affected by threats of displacement. Along with this, I would also like to take the example of a larger national level people’s movement, in order to focus on micro and macro issues around land and forest rights.

The struggle against forced displacement is a daily reality for many forest dwelling communities. The Baigas who are a primitive tribal group, are a witness to this grave phenomenon, over the decades. Traditionally, Baigas were considered as ‘brothers of tigers’, because of the close bond that they shared with the forests and its natural inhabitants. The Baiga communities have immense knowledge about conservation and practice sustainable methods of afforestation. Over the generations, it is ironical to see how these protectors of forests are now threatened with displacement in the pretext of conservation efforts. Despite the enactment of laws like the Forest Rights Act, the Baigas continue to be evicted and deprived of their basic rights.

This is perhaps the story of many such forest dwelling communities in every nook and corner of our country. The National Alliance of People’s Movements along with many other movements from across the country recently organized nation wide protests against the amendments to the Land acquisition bill. The main concern was that “the legislation failed to address the ongoing land alienation of the tribals and marginal farmers in the country and would infact further aggravate the land conflicts, agrarian crisis and impoverishment in the country.” [1]

The reasons given for forced land and forest acquisition (whether openly or disguised) are many- land for development projects like mining, industrialization, etc.. The question that development practitioners have been raising time and again, over the decades, seems to be all the more relevant today. “Whose development are we talking about, anyways”?

One of the core demands from these struggles include, democratic consultations and spaces where women and men from the most marginalized communities can have a say over issues that affect their existence. The demands include activating existing forums like the gramsabha, for taking the final decisions regarding jan, jungal, zameen and khaneej, which are being protected by local communities over generations, and with which they share a relationship of mutual dependence and nuturing. Is this too much to ask? What is the ground reality today for groups like Baigas? What are some of the policy level discussions that are being pushed forward by people’s movements? My paper would seek to put forth some issues around this, for discussion.



[1] Source: National Alliance Of People's Movements official website

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

At the outset I would like to appreciate the topic chosen focussing on People’s movement vis-a-vis the issue of resource scarcity, lack of access to resources and how this affects marginalized tribal and forest dwelling communities. Since you are already familiar/ researched on Baiga community it will be useful I guess. Overall the note is very lucid and clear. The theme you have selected is also interesting.
Few suggestions for follow up:

  1. Kindly build set of hypotheses (key research statements)
  2. You could synthesise this abstract in to 100 to 150 words max
  3. Give only couple of lines introduction/explanation on the core issue (Baigas and their plight)
  4. The details can come in your main paper
  5. In the main paper logically argue with present conditions, challenges faced, how Baigas are getting marginalised with present forest laws, how it is getting worsened with impacts of globalisation, liberalisation and modernisation processes.
  6. If possible compare and contrast with another similar case study
  7. You may also refer the emerging rehabilitation policy
  8. Probably set of recommendations in the end as policy input to improve the situation for Baigas and other such tribes/ communities in India.

Title: The Environmentally Induced Displaced People in Tamil Nadu: Resettlement Experience and Rebuilding Livelihood Strategies


Author: C. Valatheeswaran


Abstract: Following the tsunami on 26th December 2004, the Nagapattinam district of the Tamil Nadu State was the worst affected district in India in terms of dead, injured, missing and displaced people and destruction of infrastructure. Fishing was the dominant industry in the district, but activities stopped because essential fishing gear and equipment had been destroyed. In addition to this, the small and marginal farmers lost their primary livelihoods, land, water, standing crops, fodder and livestock. Given this background, this study attempts to examine the manner in which displaced people were rehabilitated by the government/NGOs, and the impact of institutional relief assistance on their household assets. It also examines the pre- and post-disaster livelihood condition of the internally displaced people in Nagapattinam district, using the Department for International Development’s sustainable livelihood framework. This study is based on primary data collected through a field survey among 100 households in two tsunami-affected villages in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. This study found that Government and NGOs had provided relief assistance to the tsunami-affected people on the humanitarian grounds which included cash doles, shelter, food, clothing, drinking water and medical supplies. The relief assistance had positively affected peoples’ livelihood. Further, those who were working in the fisheries sector before disaster had found new jobs in the labour market after the tsunami.


Key words: Tsunami, Tamil Nadu, Displacement, Resettlement, Livelihoods


Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:


At the outset it is quite interesting topic you have choseen. I would like to know two things:

  1. One on why you chose DFID's livelihood framework for this study? and
  2. secondly which are the two villages in Nagapattinam district (please name the villages)? Please proceed further on this topic and keep me posted.


Title: Imagined Geographies of Climate Change Induced Displacements and Migrations: A Case Study of Tuvalu


Author: Sonali Narang


Abstract: Since climate change is both about physicality (physical transformations) and the ideational (various ideas, understandings and representations), it is more illuminating to focus on the interplay between the two. Taking Tuvalu, a small Island country in the Pacific with 10,509 inhabitants as my case study, I argue that against the backdrop of highly alarmist geopolitical discourses about climate change in the small islands of the Pacific, this so-called ‘endangered nation’ is a revealing example of how displacements and migrations are likely to be caused (rather forced) more by the policy responses anchored in the imagined geographies of fear, in anticipation of climate consequences, than by material transformations in the environmentperse. Through a critical engagement with the official discourses, scholarly articles and media reporting, I further argue and illustrate that the discourse of climate displacements and relocations has a far more complex geography to it than normally acknowledged.


Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

  1. The theme ‘Imagined geographies of climate change fear ’ is interesting one with Tuvalu as case study.
  2. Kindly highlight the ideational aspects of climate change impact with suitatble examples
  3. The dialectics of ‘idea vs matter’ could be juxtaposed in your analysis of ‘physicality and ideational components of CC
  4. Use relevant end/foot notes as references with select biblio.


Title: On link between development and displacement Case Studies from Bangladesh


Author: Afroja Khanam


Abstract : While development  refers changes, modernization,   welfare of the people, , this  paper shows  that each  year a  large  number  of   population are forcibly displaced  by  development projects, such as building dams, bridges, roads, eco-parks, oil, gas  and mining  projects in Bangladesh.  The common people pay   high opportunity cost of   development. Development  has cost  them  their  homes, their  livelihoods,  their  health,  and  even  their  very lives. Besides, it also brings hard consequences specially for women and children. In the backdrop of widespread adverse consequences of development, mass awareness and resistance movements become a critical discourse. Evidently, different movements have been organized in Bangladesh   against various  development projects, such as  resistance movement against building  an airport  in Arial Bil; open coal mining  in Fulbari, Dinajpur; oil  and  gas  mining  in  Magurchara etc. . Previously, the Jamuna Bridge Project displaced people literally sweeping the   land from under their feet and people were against   of that. In this backdrop, this paper tends to analyze how development promotes displacement and caused everyday life of the people.  The paper also    examines the development-induced inequality factors and its consequences.


Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:


It is very lucid and concise. Since you are focusing on development induced displacement, are you going to take up all the case examples you have quoted in your abstract "such as resistance movement against building  an airport  in Arial  Bil,open coal mining  in Fulbari, Dinajpur; oil  and  gas  mining  in  Magurchara, the Jamuna Bridge Project, etc"?. If it is possible to take up all for comparing and contrasting you may go ahead or else you may choose two cases for indepth analysis.

Kindly go ahead as per your wish and interest with your main paper preparation.

  1. I am very keen to see how development is not only inducing displacement but also perpetuating 'inequality' in society.
  2. Please take up vulnerability issues among women and children among the affected
  3. Kindly also give your alternative solutions and recommendations as policy input in the end


Title: "Typologies of displacement and resettlement-Need for Social Impact Assessment Tools"


Author: Nanda Kishor


Abstract: The forced resettlement of populations in association with the construction of dams and other major public works constitutes a crisis that generates what Scudder (1973) and others call a "multi-dimensional stress of relocation." The intensity, characteristics, and manifestations of this stress depend on many variables, some of which are universal while others are specific to the socio-economic and cultural milieu in which the displacement takes place. Studies carried out during recent decades have greatly contributed to delineating the general features of compulsory relocations as social processes, but the vast majority of these studies were based on rural populations. Although one could place urban relocations caused by dams and reservoirs in the context of urban renewal or slums and squatter settlement eradication schemes, their peculiarities (Bartolome 1983) are so many and great that they deserve special consideration. Furthermore, studies of these kinds of processes can shed light upon one of the most critical areas of social theory; the relations between individual behavior and social forms (including cultural norms) under conditions of very rapid social change. This Specific work would look into the aspect of why social movements or movements of resistance to involuntary displacements have failed in the urban society and the reasons behind the behavior of the civil society in this regard. The work also highlights the importance of social impact assessment against the orthodox cost benefit analysis. To explain this, the case studies from Hyderabad would be used in comparison with other major cities in India.


Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

  1. Overall the abstract in very interesting one focusing on urban context of displacement
  2. The “relations between individual behavior and social forms under conditions of rapid scio-economic change is interesting”. Kindly highlight the specific social theory which addresses this component.
  3. Causes of failure in resistance to involuntary displacements in urban areas
  4. Outline the Social impact assessment tools to be used in this paper?
  5. Hope you will use suitable foot/end notes for references and list of select list of biblio.



Statelessness in South Asia

(Research Assignments)     


Participants opted for this module D should submit a research report/article (within 4000 - 5000 words with end notes or foot notes on any one of the following themes:

1. Discuss with reference to a case study how the distinction between a Refugee and a Stateless Person is increasingly getting blurred.

2. Discuss the 1954 Convention on Statelessness. Frame a Model Regional Law in order to address the problem of Statelessness inSouth Asia against the background of international legal regimes.

3. Suggest with reference to a case study a roadmap for civil society activism in order   to address the problem of Statelessness.

4. Do you think that the Stateless should have a right to citizenship in the host country? Please enunciate your view on global responsibility relating to statelessness.

Title: Nepali people in Assam: Refugees or Stateless Person?


Author: Kaberi Das  

Abstract: The main argument of the paper centers around the blurring of the boundary between a refugee and a stateless person. The paper draws the case of nepali people in Assam and tries to show the blurring of their identity as a refugee or a stateless person. The paper is divided into four parts. The first part of the paper deals with the concepts of refugee and a stateless person as understood by various scholars. The second part of the paper draws in the case of nepali people in India, particularly Assam, tracing their history in Assam after the independence of India in 1947 to the present time, their condition and status in Assam. The third part of the paper brings in the debate whether to consider the nepali people as refugees or stateless person. The paper ends with a series of questions raised by the author.

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

1.       This is brief and more of a proposal and therefore difficult to discuss. But I consider it as worthwhile and viable.

2.       A brief reference to the history of the Nepalis before Independence may be in order. I have a feeling that Independence did not seem to have made any difference in the life of the Nepali people of the Northeast. You may explain why.

3.       You may consult the writings of T.B. Subba, A.C Sinha and Lopita Nath in this context. A few surveys were conducted on the Nepalis of say Nagaon and other places – some by the Government of Assam. You can make use of these surveys.

4.   I look forward to seeing a longer version with some findings.



Title: Young Tibetans Living in Nepal


Author: Roopshree Joshi


Abstract: Tibetans have been living in Nepal post the exile of Dalai Lama to India in 1959.Till 1990 they have been provided refugee status in Nepal .There are estimated 13000 Tibetans living in Nepal and more than 100000 Tibetans living in India. Currently Nepal is a transit country and is allowing Tibetans to transit through Nepal to India.

Prior to 1990 the refugee cards were issued to the refugee cards .They are currently living in the scattered settlements through out Nepal and also in urban areas. Post 1990 as, there is no issuance of refugee card for any Tibetans, any Tibetan born after 1990 in Nepal do not have their own refugee card and are listed in the name of the parents as dependants .

As they don’t have refugee cards, the Tibetans born after 1990 do not possess any identification documentation besides them recorded in their parents’ name. The children on reaching the majority hence become without documentation and become stateless.

The possessions of refugee card ensures the safe stay in Nepal .The Tibetans livelihood basically comprises of employment opportunities within the settlements ,offices of the Tibetans, small enterprises and businesses. As it is there are limitations with the possession of the refugee cards, that the non possession of the card adds the insecurity amongst the second generation Tibetans born in Nepal post 1990.

The paper would like to discuss the situation of the young stateless Tibetan youth who do not have refugee cards and hence are more vulnerable to the limited livelihood opportunities available.

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

1.   The significance of the year 1990 may be highlighted for it is likely to offer a clue for understanding the transition from refugeehood to statelessness. This is where politics more than law plays the most important role.


Title: The Burmese Rohingya: A Forgotten Minority?


Author: Aneeta Ghote


Abstract: Repression of ethnic minorities is widespread in Burma, and many see a resolution of the country's ethnic tensions as vital to its future. Unfortunately, Burmese civil society and the political opposition often mirror the government's perception of the Rohingya. Among Burma's ethnic minorities, the Rohingya, a stateless population, stand out for their particularly harsh treatment by Burmese authorities and their invisibility as a persecuted minority.


Article 1 - 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons


Definition of the term “stateless person”

1. For the purpose of this Convention, the term “stateless person” means a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.

It's difficult to imagine what life is like for people living in a kind of legal no-man's land. The hundreds of millions of us who have a nationality rarely think about the many instances in our daily lives where nationality plays a role.

Most obviously, without citizenship a person cannot vote in the country in which he or she is living. International travel becomes almost impossible if you cannot obtain a passport or other travel document. Because of this, some stateless people are illegal immigrants wherever they go: they face prolonged or indefinite detention or being shuttled back and forth between states.

Many basic services are linked to nationality. Schooling, health care, social security and retirement schemes often require being a national of that country. And in many places, stateless people are not allowed to work. Problems can arise, moreover, when those without a nationality try to register a marriage or a birth. Abuse by the authorities is a constant risk. Many stateless people simply feel like outsiders who have been rejected by the state.

Discrimination is not only a root cause, but also a result of statelessness. Where large populations are marginalized, the consequence is despair and frustration. They are also vulnerable to arbitrary treatment and crimes like trafficking. Tensions can lead to unrest, conflict, forced displacement and regional instability. To prevent the serious consequences of statelessness for individuals and societies, the international community has agreed that all human beings should enjoy the right to a nationality.

States are responsible for regulating nationality matters and deciding who is a national and who is not. They base their decisions on a person's connection with the country through birth, ancestry or residence. All stateless people have such links with at least one country, but do not possess a nationality due to legal reasons or discrimination.

At independence, new states have to define their body of citizens. In the past, nationality criteria were often based on ethnicity, which led to large populations being excluded. Subsequent legislation often based nationality on descent, thus forcing parents to pass on statelessness like a genetic disease. In some countries, similar policies of exclusion were introduced well after independence. In practice, equality in legislation is not a guarantee for full nationality rights where authorities refuse to issue nationality documentation to citizens based on ethnicity, language or religion.

In many states, women do not have the same nationality rights as men. When women cannot pass on their nationality, their children are at a heightened risk of statelessness if they cannot legally acquire the father's nationality, or if he is unable or unwilling seek nationality for these offspring. Furthermore, in some countries a woman cannot pass on her nationality to her foreign husband.

Another problem is that nationality laws drafted when states are created, or when territory is transferred (state succession), are often limited in scope and use deadlines. As a result, many people fall through the cracks and become stateless.

Incompatibilities in the application of two or more nationality laws can also lead to statelessness. Meanwhile, legislation in some countries allows loss or deprivation of nationality even where this would render a person stateless. Making the renunciation of a previous nationality a precondition for acquiring a new one also creates risks of statelessness. For many people, inability to establish nationality has the same consequences as not having a nationality at all. Birth certificates are a key element for proof of nationality as they establish both descent and place of birth - as millions of births every year go unregistered, the risk of statelessness increases.


Who are the Rohingya?


The Rohingya are a Muslim population from western Burma.  Numbering almost two million, they are concentrated in just three townships located along the Burmese-Bangladeshi border, known as Northern Rakhine State (NRS).  Conquered by the Burmese in the early nineteenth century, the Rohingya and their Rakhine Buddhist co-nationals have been treated more like a subjugated minority than as members of Burmese society. In 1982, the Burmese government stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship, formally codifying an ongoing campaign to encourage them to leave the country.

Official Burmese government policy on the Rohingya is repressive. The Rohingya need authorization to leave their villages and are not allowed to travel beyond Northern Rakhine State. They need official permission to marry and must pay exorbitant taxes on births and deaths. Religious freedom is restricted, and the Rohingya have been prohibited from maintaining or repairing crumbling religious buildings. Though accurate statistics are impossible to come by inside Burma, experts agree that conditions in Northern Rakhine State are among the worst in the country. Rohingya refugees commonly cite land seizures, forced labor, arbitrary arrests, and extortion as the principal reasons for flight. Once a Rohingya leaves his or her village without permission, he or she is removed from official residency lists, and can be subject to arrest if found.

With few options available to the Rohingya in Bangladesh, more and more people are risking their lives to travel to Malaysia to seek livelihood opportunities. The number of Rohingya boat people originating from inside Burma and from Bangladesh is increasing, despite the dangers posed by dishonest brokers, substandard boats, and the Thai navy. Although many have lost their lives at sea or were caught and detained by Burmese authorities, many more continue to reach Malaysia. In all, an estimated one million Rohingya now live in Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, the Middle East, and farther afield. Despite decades of severe repression, there has been minimal international response to the needs of this extremely vulnerable population compared to other Burmese refugees.


Continuing Discrimination


Isolation of the Rohingya is exacerbated by the lack of effective political or community organizing within the group.  Burmese ethnic groups in Thailand have greatly benefited from support they receive from the international community to gain skills to provide for themselves and to organize politically. Thailand-based Burmese organizations are now supporting similar ethnic Burmese organizations in Malaysia.  Because no effective Rohingya organizations currently exist, there is no such support to the Rohingya in either Bangladesh or Malaysia.

It is unlikely that leadership will emerge from the younger generation of the Rohingya if they continue to be marginalized and unable to access training or higher education opportunities. The Rohingya are currently excluded from large-scale resettlement programs for Burmese refugees. While resettlement can never be the only durable solution for refugee communities, it could address a critical component of the Rohingya's condition, namely providing citizenship rights to a stateless population.

Bangladesh and Malaysia are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, which gives refugees like the Rohingya little legal protection in either country. In Bangladesh, where the Rohingya have lived for almost twenty years as refugees, officially recognized refugees are restricted to living in camps, separated from the local community.  For unrecognized Rohingya living outside the camps, the Bangladeshi government prohibits the expansion of services to benefit them.

In Malaysia, where many Rohingya have also been living for close to twenty years, the continued failure of the government to provide any legal status to the Rohingya subjects them to the same vulnerabilities as other Burmese refugees, including arrest, deportation, and a lack of access to basic services such as education and health care.  Despite the length of their residence in Malaysia, they do not feel part of Malaysian society.  As in Bangladesh, supporting efforts towards self-sufficiency is a sensible approach, but it is far from reality, and should not be considered to be more likely for the Rohingya than it is for other Burmese.

The inability of the Rohingya to access basic services in both Bangladesh and Malaysia is further compounding their vulnerability. In Bangladesh, in particular, the inability of Rohingya children to access education past grade five due to government restrictions gives them few options for improving their lives and providing for their families in the future.

There are more than 200,000 Rohingya living unofficially outside these main camps, some in precarious situations.  In the drive to provide longer-term options for self-sufficiency, there is a need to provide strategies that address the immediate health, sanitation, education, and security needs of growing numbers of unregistered Rohingya, such as those at Leda and the makeshift Kutupalong settlement, until they can benefit from self-sufficiency programs.

In Malaysia, the lack of access to basic services for the Rohingya is further exacerbated by the government's targeting of refugees for arrest, detention, and deportation. Many Rohingya raise the lack of educational opportunities as their number one concern. This and the few other services that do exist are found in Kuala Lumpur, and little to no assistance reaches communities outside of the capital, such as Penang, where the Rohingya have formed a significant community.  The lack of community organizing by the Rohingya in Malaysia also prevents them from providing services to their own population, as other Burmese groups in Malaysia do.


Consequences of Marginalization


The separation of the Rohingya by the international community and by Burmese groups has led to an overall lack of support for a traumatized population for twenty years. This has led to severe illiteracy and an overall lack of education, substandard health and living conditions, and few options for a productive future. 

The UN, donor countries, and above all countries in South and Southeast Asia, must begin to address the plight of all Burmese refugees as equal, and commit resources to them in equal measure. There must also be an acknowledgement that the Rohingya, like other Burmese refugees, will continue to live in a state of protracted exile, with little hope for returning home in the upcoming years, and begin to plan humane and effective responses to this reality.

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

1.       I like the main arguments of the writ-up.

2.       It may be worthwhile to explain why under acute xenophobic conditions civil societies crumble and get ethnicized. This has happened in Arunachal Pradesh and elsewhere.

3.       How is ‘formal codification’ done while stripping groups of their citizenship? How is the ‘normal’ law of the land that guarantees citizenship suspended and superseded by another law in order to strip citizenship rights? Is democracy then a guarantee against such acts?

4.   Why Rohingyas cannot do what Burmese ethnic groups can in Thailand? How do we account for varying degree of victim-hood that statelessness inflicts on people? Is it possible to grade vulnerability wile framing policies?

Title: Statelessness or Permanent Rehabilitation:  Issues Relating to Chakmas of CHT in Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh


Author: Anindita Ghoshal


Abstract: In South Asia, statelessness is not only a source of human insecurity and a cause of forced displacement, but it may also pose a threat to national or regional stability. The political map of Chittagong Hill Tracts has been redrawn several times over, as a result of annexation of this region by different rulers. After mainly the commercial relationship with the Mughals, it was only 1860 that the CHT was brought fully within realm of the British Empire. Eventually, the largest ethnic group in CHT was the Chakmas. According to the Radcliffe Award, CHT was handed over to East Pakistan just after Partition, with 98 percent of its population comprising of dominantly Buddhists and various other ethnic communities. By such unfair decision, from a relatively economically self-sufficient and politically semi-autonomous region, the CHT was turned into a peripheral area within East Pakistan.

With the inclusion of CHT in Pakistan, the Chakmas were abruptly exposed to unexpected political as well as religious discrimination at the hands of the new administration. The economic exploitation of that region had started right from early 1950s when the new Government undertook industrial developmental projects in the CHT. The first modern project to weaken Chakmas’ claim to a special status on grounds of their unique history and ethnicity was the construction of Karnaphuli paper mill at Chandragona in 1953, followed by the Kaptai hydroelectric project between 1959 and 1963. These two incidents led to one of the biggest displacements in the early history of modern South Asia. The 90 percent of the uprooted populace were Chakmas, who were never adequately rehabilitated. Again in the 1980s, the newly independent state of Bangladesh by design encouraged people from the plains to settle down in the hill areas, just to crush the expectation of self-determination in the CHT by the original inhabitants.

For over four decades of eviction Chakmas took asylum in India, especially in two states, i.e. Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh. The case of Tripura is virtually unique, as after Partition the indigenous peoples have been reduced to a marginal minority in their own land. Interestingly, the Chakmas in Tripura have always been an integral part of the ongoing militant movement against the dominant settler Bengali Hindus. But, after in different phases between the late 1970s and early 1980s, especially after a series of massacres by the Bangladesh security forces in the CHT, the number of Chakma refugees touched almost 70,000. Though through agreements, talks and promises of the Bangladeshi Government, and repressive policies made by the Government of Tripura for years even in the camps, most of the Chakmas still remain stateless in the land of Tripura. 

But, the scenario of Arunachal regarding this particular uprooted community is thoroughly different in the sense that they are living consistantly in this country or the State over 40 years. Indeed, they are not camp refugees aided by both the State and Central Governments like Tripura; rather on the contrary, in most cases they have their right over lands and own-houses in the respective villages in Arunachal. But, in the course of transformation from NEFA to the State of Arunachal Pradesh, the status of the Chakmas became worst. The Citizenship Act of 1955 was never implemented for their cause. Moreover, the Government denied the Pact of 1972, by explaining its protected area status. The local people, political forum and parties, along with the State Government often raise the issue of alleged involvement of Chakmas in so called criminal, illegal and anti-national activities in respective villages and areas occupied by them.

In both these States, Chakmas were basically the victims of Partition. After the War of Liberation and the establishment of Bangladesh, they expected to get their legal rights over the land and properties. But, the then Bangladeshi Government had denied them as their citizens and after the death of Nehru; the Central Government also became reluctant about those stateless Chakmas. They did not either extended their hands for the end of the statelessness of Chakmas in this country, or advocated for legal procedures so that they can get their due recognition, in CHT.

Comments from Core Faculty Mamber:

1.      The Buddhist population of CHT is further divided into various ethnic communities – many of whom remain invisible thanks to the huge attention that the Chakmas, the Hajongs and a few others get. Although all are victims, the uneven distribution of in-/visibility has its own politics to be explained.

2.      The collection of reports entitled ‘Life is not Ours’ may be of help to you. The report is also available in Bengali published from Bangladesh.

3.      While the point regarding ‘repressive’ policies followed by the Government of Tripura is well taken, a little elaboration of such policies will be welcome.

4.   A little reflection on possible solutions is likely to add to the policy thinking on statelessness.