Malaysia gears up to deport asylum seekers from Myanmar sparking outcry from rights groups
LUMUT (MALAYSIA) – Malaysia has started ferrying asylum seekers and other detainees from Myanmar to a port where ships are berthed to take them to their homeland. This comes as rights groups made a late legal attempt to halt the deportation process, saying lives were at risk.
The navy ships sent by Myanmar will leave on Tuesday with 1,200 detainees.
Among those being deported are members of the minority Chin, Kachin and non-Rohingya Muslim communities fleeing conflict.
Malaysia made it clear that it would not deport Rohingya Muslims or refugees who are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
According to the UN refugee agency, at least six people are registered with it and they are also set to be deported and there could be more.
The refugees are being ferried in buses and immigration department trucks to the western port of Lumut where the Myanmar vessels are docked.
Amnesty International and Asylum Access tried to obtain a court order on Monday to halt the process, arguing that three people registered with the UNHCR and 17 minors having one parent in Malaysia were among the deportees.
“If Malaysia insists on sending back the 1,200 individuals, it would be responsible for putting them at risk of further persecution, violence and even death,” said Katrina Maliamauv, Amnesty Malaysia director.