On Tuesday 23 February Malaysian activists submitted a final legal offer to stop the deportation into their own country of 1,200 Myanmar detainees week after a coup, following a storm of criticism.
Migrant men, including vulnerable minorities, were loaded onto three vessels sent by Myanmar’s marine at a military base on the west coast of Malaysia.
It has been criticized by the United States and the United Nations and the UN is demanding access by the United Nations agency for refugees to determine whether asylum seekers are any.
According to the UN, there are at least six registered individuals who need international protection.
The Amnesty International and Asylum Access rights groups said they had brought a question to the High Court of Kuala Lumpur on Monday to avoid this deportation.
“This effort to halt the deportation is based on information from refugee groups evidently indicating that asylum seekers and refugees are among the individuals being sent to Myanmar,” said Katrina Jorene Maliamauv, executive director of Amnesty International Malaysia.
“The Myanmar military’s human rights violations against protestors and dissidents have been widely documented. 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.”
But with migrants in trucks and busses escorted by police cars already arriving in Lumut, the gap of the court offer was unknown.
In early February, Myanmar’s military seized power and arrested civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking major demonstrations.
At first, Malaysia expressed “serious concern” but just days later reports came out that it had decided to send warships from the Burmese Junta to repatriate the detainees.
Officials insist the remittances have committed crimes including the excess of visas and there are no members of the Rohingya oppressed community – who are not accepted in Myanmar as residents.
However, according to Lilianne Fan, International Director of the Geutanyoe Foundation who works with refugees, the inmates are members of the Christian Chin community as well as citizens from conflict-ridden Kachin and Shan states.
Malaysia is the home to millions of migrants who work in low paying jobs such as construction from poorer parts of Asia. They come from Bangladesh and Indonesia as well as Myanmar.