JAKARTA - Malaysian authorities deported 1,086 Myanmar citizens back to the Thousand Pagoda Country, despite the Malaysian High Court's order and petitions from human rights activists.
Malaysian authorities said the Myanmar citizens who had been deported were because they carried out immigration measures, not asylum seekers.
"All those who have been repatriated agree to be sent home without coercion from any party", Malaysia's Immigration Director-General Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a statement, reported by the BBC.
Daud added that those who were repatriated did not include Rohingya refugees or asylum seekers, repeating a previous statement by Malaysia that they would not deport those registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Deputy Asia Director for HRW Phil Robertson said Malaysia had sent them back into the hands of the military junta, which is known for persecuting those who fled the country for political reasons.
Robertson also asked the Malaysian Immigration Department to stop the blockade of UNHCR. He said authorities were said to have blocked UNHCR from accessing immigration detention centers in Malaysia for more than a year, according to reports - meaning the United Nations was unable to confirm Daud's remarks.
"Before sending anyone back to a situation where they could face persecution, the Malaysian government should ensure that UNHCR has access to detention centers. So that the international community can be assured that they are not sending people into danger", said the group Human Rights Watch (HRW).
UNHCR said there were at least six people on their data, including those who were deported, Reuters reported. The rights group also said that asylum seekers from the Chin and Kachin minority communities, who had fled persecution, were among those deported.
To note, the migrants were deported on three Myanmar Navy ships from a Malaysian military base on Tuesday night, after arriving in overcrowded trucks and buses. This is despite the Kuala Lumpur High Court previously issued a delay to postpone deportation pending a hearing on Wednesday.
As is known, Myanmar is currently in the midst of uncertainty, after the military carried out a coup and overthrew the legitimate government under Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
Myanmar citizens have been taking to the streets for days to stage demonstrations until the national strike which was held on Monday, February 22. Hundreds of residents were injured while 4 people died as a result of the repressive actions of the Myanmar military.
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