The Malaysian immigration department deported more than 1,000 Myanmar nationals despite a court order from Kuala Lumpur’s court on Tuesday halting the deportations as human rights organisation raised concerns over ongoing turmoil in the country.
The director-general of Malaysia’s immigration department, Kairul Dzaimee Daud, said that the 1,086 Myanmar nationals were deported with their will and they were being sent back on three vessels.
“All of those deported were Myanmar nationals and not Rohingyas or asylum seekers, he said in a statement. “ All those deported agreed to return voluntarily without coercion by any parties.”
The move came just moments after the Malaysian high court granted an interim stay to halt the deportation of 1,200 migrants until Wednesday to hear an appeal by two human rights groups, which say refugees, asylum seekers and minors faced threat to life in their home country.
The court said it considered the matter following a legal bid by Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia, who said the lives of the minors and all the people in the group were at risk as “human rights violations” continue in Myanmar.
Amnesty said the court will hear their appeal Wednesday and urged the government to grant the UNHCR access to the group.
“It’s important to note that the stay of execution granted by the court does not mean the 1,200 are safe from being deported. They are facing life-threatening risks,“ Amnesty International Malaysia’s director, Katrina Jorene Maliamauv said in a statement.
The immigration department earlier said there were no United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cardholders or ethnic Muslim Rohingya refugees in the group, who were held for offenses including not having valid travel documents, overstaying their visas and violating social visit passes.
But the two rights groups in their legal filing named three people registered with the UNHCR and 17 minors who have at least one parent still in Malaysia. The UNHCR has separately said there were at least six people registered with it among the group due to be deported.
The concerns by human rights groups were raised as largescale anti-government protests continue to rock Myanmar as people demanded the restoration of democracy since the military seized control of the country. Three people have died in the protest as police used force.
Amnesty and a group pf 27 Malaysian lawmakers sent a letter to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday urging him to halt deportation and stressed “public opposition” to the planned deportation.
Malaysia is home to some 180,000 UN refugees and asylum seekers — including more than 100,000 Rohingya and other Myanmar ethnic groups.
They remain at the risk of deportation as Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugee.
About 700,000 Rohingya have escaped from Myanmar since August 2017 after the military was accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of homes in response to attacks by a rebel group.
Additional reporting by agencies