Thursday, April 11, 2013

GOAN REFUGEES By Franco Fernandes, Chorão

Definition of a Refugee: A Refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their home and seek refuge elsewhere.
Under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951, a refugee is more narrowly defined (in Article 1A) as a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country"
Goa was recognized by countries around the World and even by India Union itself as a “Province of Portugal”. Indian Union even recognized that Goans are Citizens of Portugal and had its Diplomatic Mission in Goa till 1955.
The Events after 17th December 1961 will always be recorded in History as an Indian Union Aggression against Goa, an illegal Invasion of Goa, a clear violation of Human Rights & International Law.
The Indian Union under the Pretext of Liberating Goa on 17th December 1961 Invaded the Estado da Índia Portuguêsa [EIP] with “No Declaration of War”. Soon after 19th December 1961, several Thousands of Goans departed their Motherland Goa and were welcomed in continental Portugal. Many Goan families got separated. Those Goans who stayed in Goa post 19th December 1961 were forced to take Indian Citizenship. Diplomatic relations between India and Portugal ceased.
After the Indian Invasion of Goa, the Indian Nehru Government decreed that all Persons born in Goa (formerly Portuguese Citizens) would automatically become Indian Citizens by the virtue of the Take-Over. Forcing Indian Citizenship on Goans.
Goans who refused to give up their Portuguese Citizenship in Goa and Goans who were against Indian occupation of Goa were Persecuted and were accused of being pro-Portuguese and jailed by Indians. Goans were forced to register, apply and pay huge amount for Indian Visa. These Goans were born in Goa but Indians humiliated them and made these Goans feel foreigners in their own Motherland Goa. Those who refused to comply were arrested and subjected to torture & abuse and many died as prisoners in their own Motherland Goa. Even playing a Portuguese Music in Goan homes was banned by Indian Military.
For Example: (Réunion is a small Island and Overseas Province of France in the Indian Ocean. Most Réunion people are French Citizens but they are not ethnically French. India Invades Réunion under the Pretext of Liberating it from French Colonists and never hold a Plebiscite and claims they have Liberate Réunion from French colonists and forces Indian Citizenship on Native Réunion People. Those who refuse Indian Citizenship are forced to Leave Réunion.) Can this be justified?
The Indian Union forcefully applied Law of Evacuees on Goans instead of holding a Plebiscite. Under this Law the Goan Evacuee Property & Money were confiscated by Alien Indian Government. The law of Evacuee is a clear violation of Human Rights.
Portuguese Governor Manuel Antonio Vassalo e Silva had done good work in Goa. He provided employment opportunities to many Goans. 99% of Goa Administration was under Goan Hands during Portuguese Rule but after Indian occupation these jobs were replaced by Hindian Babus. Many Goans lost their Jobs and were forced to leave Goa for a livelihood.
For Goans now living in Lisbon, it was an Invasion of Goa because if it had been a Liberation Goa would be Independent . In their view, one external power was replaced by another. A Goan man Rosario Rodrigues who left Goa in 1962 at the age of 20 because he “opposed the Indian Invasion and felt Portuguese” and who soon found himself serving with the Portuguese military in Africa summed it up this way: “The idea we had is that Portugal is Portugal. We did not perceive ourselves as colonized. We were the Estado da India. I went to Africa as a Portuguese citizen although I was the only Goan in my company.” It is this double identity—Portuguese citizen/Goan national—that those who left Goa for the Portugal Metropole both before and after 1961 carried with them and that defines their sense of belonging in Portugal and being in the world to this day.
Goans in Portugal are thought to be the largest Goan community in the world living outside Goa. They have entered Portugal prior to 1961 and immediately after 1961 directly from Goa; from Mozambique and other African colonies after 1974; and during the 1990s as part of a liberal immigration policy that extends Portuguese citizenship to inhabitants of the former Estado da Índia Portuguêsa [EIP] who can demonstrate that they, their parents, or their grandparents were born there prior to 1961.
Across the centuries Goans travelled to the Portugal metropole for Military, Medical, Legal, and Theological education. By the latter Eighteenth century there was a regular Goan Member of Parliament in Lisbon.
In this period Goans also migrated to other Portuguese Overseas Provinces. In Africa Goans occupy positions as clerks and Administrators. There was also an important Goan missionary presence in Mozambique. In Africa Goans forged a diasporic Portuguese identity. In the twentieth century, particularly in the period just prior to the Invasion of Goa, elite Goans came to Lisbon for education and many of them stayed due to Indian occupation of Goa.
An estimate made in 1954 suggested that about 180,000 Goans were away from Goa. Most of these Goans were living in Pakistan, Uganda, Kenya, Bombay etc and Overseas Portuguese Provinces like Angola, Mozambique, Timor, São Tomé etc. These Goans would visit Goa annually for Vacations and could retain their Property in Goa.
In accordance with Estado da Índia Portuguêsa [EIP constitutional Law] Goans were Citizens of Goa. Under this Law Goans born & residing Overseas were citizens of Goa and could retain their status and rights as Goan Nationals but after Indian Invasion of Goa the Indians changed this. These people were labelled by India as Citizens of Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda etc and not Goan Nationals. Today there are estimated 50,000 Goans living in Pakistan they lost all their rights & properties in Goa after 1961.
Below are the interviews of Goans residing in Portugal.
This is the story of Francisco Noronha :
Francisco Noronha entered the seminary at Rachol in Goa and was later sent to a seminary in Sri Lanka. His intention was to become a priest but eventually he decided that this was not the path he wanted to follow, and he returned to Goa for his final year of secondary school and then left for a university education in Bombay where he studied sociology. He returned to Goa in 1955, and then in 1957 he went to Angola where he worked for Shell Oil in their human resources department. At that time there were few other Goans working in Angola, and those who were there were in Portuguese government service. He married two years later, and his new bride joined him in Angola. Their two children were born in Luanda.
Sr. Noronha’s family is dispersed throughout the world One brother remained in Goa, living in the family house; another brother, who is single, is still in Angola, having emigrated there in 1964. He has a brother who went to Bombay in 1961 and another who went to Delhi. In addition to a brother who lives in Cascais, Portugal (who lived in Mozambique from 1950 to 1976, working for the Portuguese government) he also has a sister in Elvas, Portugal. She and her husband, who was a government servant in Angola, moved to Portugal in 1975. Finally there is a sister who lives in the United States.
He saw the population of Goans in Angola increased “a thousand fold” after 1961, again particularly in government posts because of Indian Occupation of Goa. His two children had been living in Goa before the Indian Invasion of 1961 with his wife’s mother.
He considered remaining in Angola, but as the country became more dangerous in 1975 it became apparent he had to leave. He arrived in Portugal at the end of 1976. For those in government service the transition was easy—they would have employment opportunities. Those working for private companies, like him, had to start all over. Fortunately he had relatives in Lisbon—a brother and a sister, who had left Goa after 1961 Indian Invasion.
Sr. Noronha and his wife first rented a flat in Cascais and then bought an apartment in 1977. He began to work in the personnel department.
Sr. Noronha observed, and then went on to question the label of retornado that was applied to him at the time. “How could they call me that? I was never from here. This is not my place of origin. I would have been a retornado if I had gone back to Goa.” He then continued by saying that he is first and foremost a Goan but that he also has always felt Portuguese and his children are Portuguese. “This is my identity, no one can take my identity. I have a love for both Goa and Portugal. Goa is different from the rest of India; even the Hindus there are different.” Sr. Noronha’s sense of belonging derives from a life of cumulated experiences within the deterritorialized Portuguese world. He is a Goan by birth and culture, but a Portuguese citizen.
This is the story of Edgar Fernandes :
Edgar Fernandes arrived in Lisbon in 1958, “as a Portuguese, as a citizen”. In other words, he did not then and does not now view himself as an immigrant or a repatriate. He came to study and currently holds an academic position. He commented that other than medical education or a pharmacy degree it was virtually impossible to pursue any advanced degree in Goa. He had some post-graduate education from an Indian university and from an agricultural college but he decided it was better to pursue his interests in Lisbon. His initial plan was to return to Goa after completing his studies, but he was offered a position in the Portuguese government and was sent to Cape Verde and Timor as part of a technical team. He returned to Portugal on 7 December 1961 and, within two weeks, Indian Union Invaded Goa. Although he still had family in Goa—a father, a brother, and two sisters—returning at that time was difficult. He remained in Lisbon. At one point he did travel back, but “you had to have the support of both sides and the Portuguese secret police (the PIDE) was careful about issuing the passports”.
Sr. Fernandes has little contact with the broader Goan community in Lisbon although he is aware of the Casa de Goa and its restaurant. He married a Portuguese woman, his children were born in Portugal, and they have married other Portuguese. But, he said, “I never forget that I am Goan; it is implicit, it is embedded. I was born there”. Although he observed that: “All you need to do is look at me to know I am different”, he went on to say that Goans are Catholics and this is a Catholic country. It is easy for us to dilute ourselves. You have to make an effort to remain Goan here”.
Sr. Fernandes’s family is global. He has cousins in Canada, England, and the United States. He said he had no regrets coming to the Portugal metropole. “I came as a Portuguese citizen with no distinction and no difficulty”. What is interesting here is the way that Sr. Fernandes represents his cultural, racial, legal, and national identities. Race and nationality make him different, but Catholic religion and Portuguese citizenship define his sense of belonging and have accorded him a place in the Portugal metropole.
This is the story of Isabel Quadros :
If Edgar Fernandes represent the first phase of twentieth-century Goan presence in the metropole, Isabel Quadros represents the second—the “Goan Refugees or Repatriates ” who came in the period immediately after the Invasion of Goa. The first group of “Goan Refugees” fled Karachi, Pakistan and waited in Karachi until May of 1962 when three Portuguese ships, the Vera Cruz, the Patria, and the Mozambique, arrived from Portugal. They were welcomed in Lisbon by the Commission for Reception and Settlement. Isabel also passed through Karachi, although not until five months later.
After the Indian army entered Goa, Isabel and her fiancé decided to remain, despite the fact that his entire family had left for Portugal. Isabel recalled that at the time of the “Invasion of Goa” the Indian Government was the enemy for many people in Goa: “at least that is what we were told. ... But families were divided on the issue”, she commented, noting that she had two uncles who were against the Portuguese and involved in the freedom movements. “Those who left Goa were against Indian occupation, But those who stayed in Goa became disappointed with the Goa’s progress under India as well. Many Goans lost their Jobs. There was no development. Indians came in and took over Goa’s Administration , poor people from India flooded into Goa. Things started to deteriorate in Goa.” Isabel’s comments here are important because they demonstrate the range of opinions even within a single family and hence the conflicted identities with which Goan people were struggling after Indian occupation of Goa.
Isabel heard that many Goans were going to Brazil, and she had a relative there who found jobs for her and her husband. They decided to become part of this new diasporic dispersal of Goans. “Although I disliked the changes in Goa, it was the sense of adventure”, she said, that stimulated her departure. They travelled from Goa to Bombay to Karachi. “We arrived there in the October of 1962, ten months after the Invasion, and were put up in a four-star hotel by the Portuguese Government.” In March of 1963 planes were sent to Karachi, and they were flown to Lisbon. Until their departure the Portuguese government continued to pay for their accommodations, food, and clothes, and they were also given spending money. She acknowledged that they were treated well & taken care of in two or three Hotels in Pakistan.
On arriving In Lisbon, the Portuguese government provided them with a place to stay, but it was not as luxurious as their lodgings in Karachi. “Families were split up with the ladies in one place and the men in another. As more and more Goan Refugees came space became tighter.” When Isabel had her first child, the Portuguese government moved them to another place and found her husband a job which was not particularly to his liking. They applied for their tickets to Brazil but friends and relatives there urged them not to come because life had turned worse in Brazil. At the time, the Portuguese government was also resettling Goan refugees in the African overseas territories. Isabel’s husband was offered a job in Guinea-Bissau, but as the papers were being prepared troubles started there, and they decided they were not going to re-emigrate to another trouble spot. Her husband’s ex-boss from Goa was in Lisbon, and he told them about a vacancy in São Tomé. They left for São Tomé with the same spirit of adventure she said.
In São Tomé, Isabel worked for a travel agency. She commented that Goans in São Tomé had a special status (by which she meant that they were treated differently by the Portuguese overseas establishment because they were not native Africans), and she felt some resentment from the local population. But they remained. Although it was hard to get a visa, they were able to return to Goa to visit in 1968. They were disappointed with what they saw. “There were lots of outsiders, poorer people, things had changed. Goa was prosperous by comparison with the rest of India at the time of Invasion. It has improved now but it was not so good then.” On more recent trips she has seen improvements in electricity, roads, water “but the government is corrupt”.
Isabel and her husband were in São Tomé for fourteen years, her husband working in airport communications. “It was a nice and easy life there, it was warm and you could afford servants.” They had bought a house in 1973 with the idea to settle permanently. The children had been sent to Portugal for education. They had retained a house in Lisbon that was rented. But then the coup came in 1974, and in 1975 São Tomé became independent. All the native-born metropolitan Portuguese left immediately, but the local São Tomé government and the Portuguese government asked Isabel and her husband to stay to facilitate the transition. Isabel observed that because they were of Goan origin they were more able to stay. Although Portuguese citizens, they were not the colonizers but rather had an identity, at least to outsiders, as people in-between. “We were not considered like the white people. They recognized that my husband had a different way of dealing with Africans.” These comments are telling for what they say about the liminality of the Goans who went to the African overseas territories. They were employed by the Portuguese Government, but they were not white and their origins were in another former Portuguese Province. But nor were they black and native to the area.
Isabel arrived back in Lisbon in April of 1978; her husband had departed late in 1977. In the late 1970s it was harder to find employment but her husband did eventually secure a position, and she found work with Angolan airlines. Both are retired now. Their closest friends in Lisbon are other Goans from São Tomé. In Isabel’s view most Goans in the Metropole have been well absorbed into Portuguese society, and they recognize that their lives have been much better, despite the disruptions, than if they had remained in Goa. Isabel identifies herself as “a Portuguese born in Goa. Our culture is different, our way of thinking is different, our education was different”. Isabel’s secondary education was in English and when she left Goa her Portuguese was minimal, but it improved once she got to Lisbon. But she said that the lack of fluency in Portuguese did not mean she felt anything other than Portuguese. “We were born Portuguese. This was what was in our minds. I felt Portuguese because I was born Portuguese. I could not suddenly say I was Indian. But the family that remained behind is Indian.” Isabel’s comments indicate how powerful the concept of nationality is in defining identity and belonging. She adhered to the idea of being Portuguese whether living in Goa, in Lisbon, or in the African overseas territories. The Portuguese language was not, for her, a defining factor although once in Lisbon her language skills clearly improved. But it is Goan culture and upbringing (the word “education” was used by Isabel to refer not only to her English language schooling but also to how she was raised) that make her Goan and hence different from the Portuguese of Portugal.
As mentioned above, in the period between 1962 and 1974 many Goans who had been forced to leave to Goa found themselves in one or another of the African overseas territories, sent there by a Portuguese government that still viewed them as well-suited to serve in the administrative bureaucracy of the Ultramar. They were neither white nor black, neither colonized or colonizers, and hence Portuguese citizens who could negotiate and adapt to the complexities of overseas assignment. Most of Isabel’s husband’s family went to Angola and, like them, returned to the metropole in 1975 as part of the retornado movement. With them came yet another group of Goans, those whose families had been in Angola, and particularly in Mozambique, prior to 1961 or for several generations.
There are Thousands of such Stories of Goans who after 1961 had to seek refuge to other countries after Indian Occupation of Goa. Goans who stayed behind in Goa were force to take Indian Citizenship. Goans born post-1961 were brainwashed that they were always Indians and were taught in their history books that they were ‘Liberated’ from Portuguese Colonists on 19th December 1961.
After 19th December 1961, 17 Percent of Goa’s 5.89Lakh Population were forced to leave Goa after Indian Brutal Occupation of Goa.

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