Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Malaysia deported more than 1,000 Myanmar nationals hours after a court ruling ordered the temporary suspension of any repatriation.
Kairul Dzaimee Daud, head of Malaysian immigration, said Tuesday the 1,086 citizens of Myanmar, where the military carried out a coup d'état on Feb. 1, were undocumented migrants who had "agreed" to the deportation, Malaysian newspaper The Star and Al Jazeera reported.
"All of those who have been deported agreed to return of their own free will, without being forced," Daud said in a statement.
The 1,086 Myanmar citizens were selected from a group of 1,200 people who are not to be removed from Malaysia under a court order. The order came after a request for a judicial review from Amnesty International and Asylum Access. The organizations said the Myanmar nationals would be at risk, and several individuals in Malaysian custody have at least one parent in the country.
"The government must respect the court order and ensure not one of the 1,200 individuals is deported today," said Katrina Jorene Maliamauv, Amnesty's executive director in Malaysia, before the deportations.
Daud suggested the detainees were not at risk of persecution after the group was sent back on Tuesday on Myanmar naval ships. According to the Malaysian immigration chief, the deported group excluded asylum seekers and members of Myanmar's Rohingya minority.
Malaysia is serving as a temporary home for 154,000 Myanmar refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The country increased border restrictions last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Star, Malaysia's immigration authorities are also working to repatriate undocumented migrants from Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia in cooperation with regional governments.
Police in Myanmar have been accused of fatally shooting protesters. Mass protests and a funeral have followed the incidents.