KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – A Malaysian court on Tuesday ordered a halt to the planned deportation of 1,200 Burmese migrants to hear an appeal from two human rights groups, who say refugees, asylum seekers and minors were among those returned.
The court order, following a legal offer from Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia, came just after the migrants were transported to a naval base where three Burmese military ships were waiting to take them home.
“In light of the court’s decision, the government must respect the court order and ensure that none of the 1,200 people are deported today,” said Amnesty International Malaysia director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv.
Amnesty said the court would hear their appeal on Wednesday and urged the government to reconsider its plans to return migrants to their homes, where human rights violations are high following a February 1 military coup that left them behind. dismissed the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
“It is important to note that the stay of execution granted by the court does not mean that the 1,200 are safe from deportation. They face mortal risks, ”Maliamauv said in a statement.
Amnesty has urged the government to give the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees access to 1,200 migrants and all migrant detention centers in general, which the Malaysian government has refused since August 2019.
Malaysian immigration officials could not be reached immediately for comment. The department said earlier that there were no UNHCR card holders or ethnic Muslim Rohingya refugees in the group, who were being held for offenses such as not having valid travel documents. , exceed their visas and violate social business cards.
But the two rights groups in their legal case named three people registered with UNHCR and 17 minors who have at least one parent still in Malaysia. UNHCR has said separately that there are at least six people registered with it among the group to be expelled.
Amnesty and Asylum Access said the repatriation amounts to legitimizing ongoing human rights violations by the Burmese military and would expose migrants to further persecution, violence and even death.
A group of 27 Malaysian lawmakers and senators also sent a letter to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday urging him to end the eviction. There was no response from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Malaysia does not recognize asylum seekers or refugees, but has allowed a large population to stay for humanitarian reasons. It is home to some 180,000 United Nations refugees and asylum seekers, including over 100,000 Rohingya and other ethnic groups from Myanmar.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August 2017, when the military cracked down in response to attacks by a rebel group. Security forces have been accused of massive rapes, murders and burning of thousands of homes.