Monday, April 28, 2008

Infantilising Refugees Amidst Manufactured Multiculturalism

Debdatta Chowdhury

Oishik Sarkar’s article on ‘Infantilising Refugees Amidst Manufactured Multiculturalism’ is his take on the lack of a cohesive refugee policy, regionally or nationally, that only means derogatory stereotyping of not just the refugees themselves but also their home countries. Movement from one country to another, either voluntarily or forcefully, forces a person into loss of citizenship and refugeehood. In the process of forming a nation-state, the state excludes a chunk of its population on the basis of caste, class, gender, ethnicity, language and other such features that a person cannot help identifying himself/herself with. Those who cannot fit themselves into the uniformity imposed on them by the state are forced to leave. The Chakmas in Bangladesh, Tamils in Sri Lanka, Muslims in India, Rohingyas in Burma are some examples of such forced migration. Oishik deals with the causes and consequences of these refugees in some details. Though not entirely fresh in his thought, Oishik presents a comprehensive picture of what goes to make a refugee out of a person and what are the general consequences they face once they loose their land and are forced into a completely new set-up to fend for themselves. The second part, ‘Limiting Legalities’ is also something widely discussed and debated in studying the refugee situation around the world. It deals with the laws regarding refugees, which makes a complete destitute out of those people who attain the status of a refugee. With no binding principles on the host countries, the host countries are free to deal with the refugees according to their own sweet will. Most of the countries, including India, not being signatories to 1951 Convention, are left to handle the refugees the way they find suitable. That the legalities associated with the refugee crisis are limiting by their very characteristic of not being binding or even being modifiable, form the crux of Oishik’s argument in this part. The third part, dealing with ‘Notion of Nation’ throws light on the way the refugees’ home countries are derogated as places of threat. The worser the situation in the home countries are, the better is the possibility of the migrating people to attain ‘refugee status’ in the host country. The notion or perception of a nation is decided by the host country, receiving the refugees. The last part ‘Red Herring’ deals with how in some countries, including India, Bangladesh, refugee laws have taken a backseat. Not being signatories to 1951 UN Convention on Refugees is the biggest failure of the UN. These countries interpret refugee laws according to their suits and needs, thus making the refugees mere tools of realpolitik. Things need to improve, immediately and vastly, in order not to make complete destitute out of refugees, forced to an uncertainty by the very state regime that was to take them under its shelter.

For the full article “Infantilising refugees amidst manufactured multiculturalism”
By : Oishik Sircar
click here: http://himalmag.com/2008/april/essay_refugees.htm

2 comments:

phoebe said...

Hi!
I very much like the fact that you have brought up this issue about refugees, I for one im a refugee and i feel like people out there need to know that we did not come to this country because we wanted to, yes some of us did but for most of us its because we had no choice. Being in a country were by you dont feel welcomed its really a bad feeling to have, with the issue of xenophobia, i feel that it is real bad that our own African brothers and sisters who are supposed to be a helping hand for us to get through the hard times that we have face, to turn their backs on us and abuse us by killing and distroying the little that we had build for our femily. We calm and tell the world that we are Africans but what good is that if we cant care for each other.
Yes we are Africans and each one of us is the same.... Let us unite.

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