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Malaysia

Malaysia sends Myanmar refugees to an uncertain future

Malaysia is endangering the lives of over 1,000 people by deporting them to a country in the middle of a coup

Benjamin Freeman, Kuala Lumpur

Benjamin Freeman, Kuala Lumpur

Updated: February 22, 2021 07:26 AM GMT
Malaysia sends Myanmar refugees to an uncertain future

Myanmar vessels UMS Than Lwin (right) and UMS Sin Phyu Shin, which will be used to deport Myanmar migrants from Malaysia back to their homeland, are docked in Lumut outside Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 22. (Photo: AFP)

Malaysian immigration authorities have long been known for their hard-nosed treatment of migrants and refugees, and it seems they just can’t help themselves.

The looming deportation of 1,200 Myanmar migrants and asylum seekers at a time when the returnees cannot be guaranteed fair treatment by the Myanmar military junta which seized power in a Feb. 1 coup is one example.

In recent weeks Myanmar's military and police have engaged in large-scale human rights violations against its own citizens. Three people have been shot dead while protesting the military takeover. The junta has also kept prominent politicians, including democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest on trumped-up charges and sought to stifle any democratic opposition through crackdowns and large-scale censorship. 

Yet Malaysia’s immigration authorities are clearly untroubled by the prospect that many of the deportees might come to harm when they are returned home. 

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