PETALING JAYA: Two NGOs have urged the immigration department to halt the impending deportation of 135 Myanmar detainees, warning that they are at risk of being tortured or even murdered by the military junta if sent back to Myanmar.
In a joint statement, the Alliance Of Chin Refugees and Beyond Borders said it was alarmed over a meeting between officials from the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the immigration department as shared by the embassy on its Facebook page.
The meeting was believed to be over the deportation of the detainees.
Myanmar has been in crisis since February last year following a military coup, which also saw the detention of elected government leaders, including Aung Sung Suu Kyi. The junta has since led a deadly crackdown on dissent.
Tens of thousands of people have reportedly been jailed and many tortured, beaten or killed, in what the United Nations (UN) has called crimes against humanity.
Stressing that Malaysia has an obligation under international law and humanitarian principles to protect the rights of refugees, the two NGOs said it hopes the country will honour its responsibility instead of “deporting these detainees to face death”.
They said their concern holds water as many Myanmar citizens in the civil disobedience movement fled the country to seek refuge in Malaysia.
“Given the situation on the ground in Myanmar, and Malaysia’s vehement condemnation of the violence targeted at ordinary citizens and activists, this planned deportation is shocking,” the NGOs said.
“We have evidence of at least one such person who is currently under detention in the Machap prison (in Johor).
“While the identities of the 135 detainees are unknown, we are afraid they will be abused or even murdered by the junta if deported for being members of the civil disobedience movement.”
The NGOs also called for an urgent meeting with immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud to verify the details of the 135 detainees.
Foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah last month condemned Myanmar’s junta for sentencing Suu Kyi to six years in prison after finding her guilty in four corruption cases. This was after she had already been sentenced to 11 years in prison in other cases.
Suu Kyi has denied all the charges against her.
Saifuddin said the junta had failed to fulfil the five-point consensus (5PC) to end the country’s turmoil which was agreed upon at the Asean Leaders Meeting (ALM) in Jakarta in April 2021 – which included an immediate cessation of violence and allowing Asean to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar.