31 Arakanese and Karen comrades who were living on assistance from the UNHCR after being imprisoned for more than ten years in India left for the Netherlands to resettle in the country in the early morning on Tuesday.
Ko Danyalin, the group leader, told Narinjara before leaving for the Netherlands they would depart from India around 1 am local time on 19 June for their resettlement in the Netherlands.
“We are altogether 33 and 31 of us will depart from India on 19 June. Two from our group will remain in India because they have failed in the interviews,” said Danyalin.
The two who will be remaining in India are known as Ko Khine San Thein, an Arakanese national, and Ko Toe Toe, a Karen national.
Ko Danyalin also said they feel joy as well as sorrow about resettling in the third country after being imprisoned for so long in their current host country.
“We feel happy for getting resettlement in the third country, but feel very sorry for our losses in this country, India. We had to live in prison for a long time and had lost six of our leaders in this country,” he said.
The group reportedly held a thanks-giving ceremony last Saturday for the Burmese people who are now living in New Delhi for helping them win their freedom from the Indian prison and for their resettlement in the third country.
Ko Danyalin said they will also carry on their political movement in cooperation with the Burmese and international organizations after arriving in the Netherlands.
The 31 freedom fighters were from the National United Party and the Karen National Union that are fighting against the central government for freedom of their states.
They came to Lansford Island in the Andaman Archipelago from the Thai-Burma border in 1998 to set up a small naval base under a secret agreement with the Indian intelligence agency RAW.
When they reached Lansford Island on 10 February, 1998, Indian soldiers gunned down six leaders of their group in cold blood, including Arakan Army Chief Bo Raza. since then they have been detained in Indian prisons.
The freedom fighters are 22 Arakanese and 9 Karen ethnics who fought for human rights and democracy in their homelands in Burma. They have been detained in India since February 1998 after the Indian spy agency lured them to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on the pretense of providing them a base of operations there.
Six of their leaders, known as Khine Raza, Saw Tun, Ran Naing, Lin Zan Khine, Phado Mhu Lway, and Saw Myint were killed in cold blood by Indian forces after arriving on the islands.
After detaining them for over 12 years in jail, their case was finally settled on 12 July, 2010, in the City Sessions Court in Kolkata when they agreed to accept a plea bargain with the Indian spy agency that was the main plaintiff in the case.
The judge of the court, Uday Chandra Nag, sentenced them to 3 years in prison on charges of illegal immigration and possessions of weapons and explosives, with a fine of 6,000 Rupee for each of them.
According to the judgment by the court, the 12 years they have already spent in jail counted as time served for their sentences and they were remanded to be held in jail for additional eight months if they failed to pay the fines to the court.
Their fines were paid to the court a month after their verdict, but eight months on, they were still being held behind bars with looming uncertainty for their release.