A Malaysian court yesterday allowed a temporary stay of deportation of 1,200 Burmese scheduled to be sent back to their strife-torn homeland, after rights groups petitioned to say that deportation could endanger their lives.
The 1,200 detainees were set to leave for yesterday afternoon in three navy ships sent by Myanmar’s military, which seized power in a Feb. 1 coup, sparking weeks of protests from prodemocracy activists.
Refugee groups say that 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 that the high court granted a stay until 10am today, when it is to 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 [yesterday],” Amnesty Malaysia director Katrina Maliamauv said in a statement.
Amnesty has said that among the deportees were three people registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and 17 minors who have at least one parent in Malaysia.
Malaysia has said that it would not deport Rohingya Muslims or refugees registered with the UNHCR.
However, the UN agency has said that there are at least six people registered with it that are also set to be deported and that there could be more.
It has not been allowed access to the deportees.
Earlier yesterday, buses and Malaysian Department of Immigration trucks were seen taking the detainees to the western Malaysian port of Lumut, where the Myanmar ships are docked at a naval base.
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