By Malaysiakini

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has granted an interim stay against the government from deporting 1,200 Myanmar nationals until 10am tomorrow.

This is according to Lim Wei Jiet, a lawyer representing Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia, which filed an application to seek the court’s intervention to stop the deportation.

The leave hearing will be heard tomorrow (Feb 24), tweeted Lim.

The Myanmar nationals were scheduled to be deported by the Myanmar navy today at Lumut naval base in Perak.

In their application, the rights groups included the details of three asylum seekers registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and 17 minors with at least one parent still in Malaysia.

This refuted the Immigration Department’s reassurance that no refugees were among the 1,200 Myanmar nationals to be deported.

The Immigration Department director-general, the home minister, and the government were named as respondents.

The two NGOs are represented by Ambiga Sreenevasan, Lim, and Gokul Radhakrishnan of Sreenevasan Advocates & Solicitors, as well as New Sin Yew of AmerBON.

In an immediate response, Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv urged the government to “respect the court order and ensure that not one of the 1,200 individuals is deported today”.

“Instead, it must grant access to UNHCR to all 1,200 individuals and all immigration detention centres in general, which the government has denied since August 2019. This would enable the UN agency to verify asylum claims and identify refugees already registered.

“We urge the government to reconsider its plans to send this group of vulnerable people back to Myanmar, where human rights violations are currently dangerously high,” she said in a statement.

It was reported that Malaysia has agreed to deport 1,200 people to Myanmar amid a military coup and deadly protests in the country.

On Saturday, Free Malaysia Today reported that three Myanmar-flagged vessels, including one described as a military operations ship, had arrived in Lumut, Perak, and were anchored off the naval base there.

The UNHCR has urged Malaysia not to proceed with the deportation, while other groups warned that the deportation could legitimise the military junta now in power and expose Rohingya and other ethnic minorities to persecution.

Malaysia had previously expressed “serious concern” over the coup in Myanmar.

Malaysia does not recognise the UN refugee status, hence refugees are viewed under the law as undocumented migrants.

Despite the non-recognition, Malaysia is home to an estimated 154,000 refugees from Myanmar, apart from the larger number of undocumented migrant workers.