Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: A Malaysian court has granted the temporary suspension of the deportation of 1,200 Myanmar nationals and is scheduled to return them to their war-torn homes on Tuesday. Human rights groups have previously requested that deportation may endanger their lives.
The 1,200 detainees were set to leave on Tuesday afternoon in three navy ships sent by Myanmar’s military, which seized power in a Feb. 1 coup, sparking weeks of protests from pro-democracy activists.
Refugee groups say asylum seekers from the minority Chin, Kachin and non-Rohingya Muslim communities fleeing conflict and persecution at home are among those being deported.
Amnesty International, which along with Asylum Access had asked the courts to stop the deportation, said the high court granted a stay until 10 a.m. Wednesday, when it will hear the groups’ application for judicial review to suspend the deportation.
“In light of the court ruling, the government must respect the court order and ensure that not one of the 1,200 individuals is deported today,” Katrina Maliamauv, Amnesty Malaysia director, said in a statement.
Amnesty International said that of the deportees, three were registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and there were 17 minors who had at least one parent in Malaysia.
Malaysia stated that it will not expel Rohingya Muslims or refugees registered with UNHCR.
However, the UN refugee agency said that at least six people who are registered there will also be deported, and more people will be deported. No access to deportees is allowed.
Earlier on Tuesday, buses and immigration trucks were seen taking the detainees to Lumut Port in western Malaysia, and Burmese ships moored at the naval base.
Malaysia has not publicly responded to critics or Reuters’ inquiries about the deportation of asylum seekers and persons registered with UNHCR.
In Malaysia’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, UNHCR has not been allowed to interview detainees to verify their identity for more than a year, so concerns remain about the deportation of unregistered asylum seekers.
The United States and other Western missions have been trying to discourage Malaysia from continuing to deport and urge the government to allow UNHCR to interview detainees. They also stated that Malaysia has legalized the military government through cooperation with the military government.