Malaysia is getting ready to deport asylum seekers and detainees from Myanmar, regardless of outcry from Reuters



© Reuters. Myanmar migrants to be deported from Malaysia are seen in an immigration truck in Lumut


LUMUT, Malaysia (Reuters) – Malaysia began moving asylum seekers and other detainees from Myanmar to a port where ships waited to take them back to their troubled homeland, although rights groups were late in laying down their deportations, though lives were in Danger.

The 1,200 prisoners are due to leave on Tuesday afternoon in three naval ships belonging to the Myanmar military, which seized power in a coup on February 1 and sparked weeks of protests by pro-democracy activists.

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

Malaysia has announced that it will not deport any Rohingya Muslims or refugees registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UN Refugee Agency has announced that at least six people are registered who are also about to be deported, and that there may be more. Access to the deportees was not granted.

Immigration buses and trucks brought the inmates to the West Malaysian port of Lumut, where the Myanmar ships are docked at a naval base.

The rights groups Amnesty International and Asylum Access filed for a court order on Monday to stop the deportation. Three persons registered with the UNHCR and 17 minors with at least one parent in Malaysia were among the deportees.

“If Malaysia insists on sending the 1,200 people back, it is responsible for putting them at risk of further persecution, violence and even death,” said Katrina Maliamauv, director of Amnesty Malaysia, on Monday.

The court will hear the motion at 12 p.m. (4 p.m. GMT).

Malaysia has not publicly responded to critics or Reuters inquiries about the deportation of asylum seekers and those registered with the UNHCR.

Concerns about the deportation of unregistered asylum seekers also persist, as UNHCR has not been allowed to interview detainees to check their status for over a year while Malaysia is cracking down on undocumented migrants.

The US and other Western missions have tried to dissuade Malaysia from deportation and have asked the government to allow UNHCR to interview detainees. They also say Malaysia legitimizes military government by working with the junta.

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