Defying court, Malaysia deports Myanmar nationals

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on February 23, 2021 - Duration: 01:55s

Defying court, Malaysia deports Myanmar nationals

Malaysia sent more than 1,000 Myanmar nationals back to their strife-torn homeland on Tuesday despite a court order to halt the deportation, a move rights groups said could endanger the deportees' lives.

Olivia Chan reports.

Defying court, Malaysia deports Myanmar nationals

Malaysia has defied a court order to halt the deportation of Myanmar nationals, sending 1,086 people back to their homeland.

The Myanmar citizens were sent back on Tuesday on three navy ships sent by the country's military, which seized power in a Feb.

1 coup.

Malaysia had initially said it would deport 1,200 Myanmar citizens.

It also vowed not to deport Rohingya Muslims or refugees registered with the U.N.

High Commission for Refugees - or UNHCR.

But the agency has said at least six people registered with it are among the deportees.

Refugee groups also say asylum seekers from the minority Chin, Kachin, and non-Rohingya Muslim communities are also fleeing conflict and persecution at home and they are among those being deported.

Malaysia's Immigration Department Director-General said the repatriated Myanmar citizens did not include Rohingya refugees or asylum-seekers.

He said, quote, "all those returned had agreed to be sent back voluntarily without being forced by any party." He did not respond to queries on why the repatriation was carried out despite the halt ordered by the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

The court had granted a stay until 10 a.m.

On Wednesday local time, when it was scheduled to hear an application by rights groups for a judicial review to suspend the deportation.

Those deported had been detained for immigration offences.

Malaysia does not formally recognize refugees, treating them as undocumented migrants.

The Southeast Asian nation is home to more than 154,000 asylum seekers from Myanmar.

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