KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's immigration department said yesterday it had carried out a repatriation programme involving 1,086 Myanmar nationals, despite an earlier court order staying the deportation.
The department's director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a statement that the returnees were sent back on three Myanmar navy ships and did not include ethnic Rohingya refugees or asylum seekers.
He added that the Myanmar nationals were undocumented migrants who were detained at department depots nationwide since last year.
"They were deported from the Royal Malaysian Navy's base in Lumut, using Myanmar's three navy vessels," he said.
The Myanmar nationals had agreed to be deported willingly, he added. "There was no form of forcefulness. They agreed to return to their home country."
Datuk Khairul Dzaimee said the deportation exercise is part of a continuous activity involving those detained at department depots. "The deportation efforts were slow last year as many countries closed their borders then."
The department, through the Home Ministry and Foreign Ministry, will continue to work towards getting the agreements of countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh, in sending their citizens home, he added.
A Malaysian court earlier yesterday allowed a temporary stay of deportation of 1,200 Myanmar nationals scheduled to be sent back to their strife-torn homeland, after rights groups said the plan could endanger their lives.
Just before the court issued its order, the migrants were taken by bus from across the country to the naval base in Lumut in Perak state where the Myanmar ships were docked.
Refugee groups say asylum seekers from the minority Chin, Kachin and non-Rohingya Muslim communities fleeing conflict and persecution at home are among those being deported.
REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK