Three weeks after the coup in Naypyidaw, where the junta took power, in early February, Malaysia expelled 1,086 people to Burma, including members of vulnerable minorities, the leader announced on Tuesday (February 23rd). from the Malaysian Immigration Service, Khairul Dzaimee Daud. They were sent back aboard three Burmese military vessels which had collected them from a base on the west coast of Malaysia.
“The Immigration Ministry would like to stress that no Rohingya migrants and no asylum seekers have been returned”, said the head of the Malaysian immigration services in a statement. “All those who were expelled have agreed to return of their own free will, without being forced to do so. “
The press release does not mention the judgment rendered a few hours earlier by the High Court of Justice in Kuala Lumpur, which, seized by Amnesty International and Asylum Access, ordered the authorities on Tuesday to temporarily suspend this expulsion. Non-governmental organizations have expressed concern about the possible presence of asylum seekers and members of vulnerable minorities among the deported migrants. The United States and had also criticized this operation.
The United States and the United Nations (UN) criticized this expulsion and asked that the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) be able to have access to the prisoners in order to verify if some are asylum seekers. According to the UN, at least six people are registered with UNHCR and must benefit from international protection.
“This move to prevent deportation is based on information from refugee groups clearly indicating that there are asylum seekers and refugees among those returned to Burma (…). Human rights violations committed by the Burmese army against demonstrators and opponents have been widely documented ”said Katrina Jorene Maliamauv, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia.
Malaysia had expressed its “Serious concern” after the coup in Burma, but, a few days later, reports of his agreement for the junta to send warships to recover the detained migrants.
Malaysian officials say those deported have committed offenses, such as having expired visas. Among those people are members of the Christian minority and others from Kachin and Shan states, according to Lilianne Fan, international director of the Geutanyoe Foundation, which works with refugees.
Malaysia hosts millions of migrants from poorer parts of Asia – including Burma, Bangladesh and Indonesia – who work for pittance, especially in the construction industry.
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