Malaysia on Tuesday deported over 1,000 Myanmar nationals back to their homeland just weeks after a coup, the country’s immigration chief said, despite a court order halting the repatriation and a storm of criticism from rights groups.
Authorities sent back 1,086 detainees on three Myanmar navy ships from a military base on Malaysia’s west coast, Malaysian immigration chief Khairul Dzaimee Daud said.
“The immigration department wants to emphasise that no Rohingya migrants or asylum seekers have been sent back,” he said in a statement. “All of those who have been deported agreed to return of their own free will, without being forced.”
The statement made no mention of a ruling from the Kuala Lumpur High Court just hours earlier ordering that the repatriation be halted so that rights groups could present a challenge arguing for the repatriation to be stopped.
Activists have raised concerns there are asylum seekers among those being deported, while the United States and United Nations had also criticized the plan.