A protester in Yangon, Myanmar, when crowds turned out despite the military presence. Photo: Hkun Lat / Getty Images
Karla de Wintourz
Protesters against the seizure of power by the military in Myanmar were back on the streets of cities and towns yesterday, one day after a general strike, bringing large numbers of demonstrators out to demonstrate.
In Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, a funeral was held for 37-year-old Thet Naing Win, one of two protesters who were shot dead by security forces on Saturday.
He and a teenage boy was killed when police and soldiers opened fire on a crowd that had gathered to assist dock workers as authorities tried to force them to work.
They went on strike, as did many officials and government employees, as part of a nationwide movement for civil obedience to the military takeover on February 1.
The number of people had fallen on Monday, but groups of protesters in Yangon, the country’s largest city, gathered again in various locations yesterday for peaceful protests.
The protesters trained their anger on a new target and gathered outside the Indonesian embassy in response to news that Jakarta was its regional neighbor suggested offering qualified support for the junta’s plan for a new election next year.
The protesters are demanding that the results of last year’s elections, won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party, be honored.
Meanwhile, Malaysian immigration authorities said To have deported 1,086 migrants from Myanmar in violation of a court order to stop their repatriation following a call by two human rights groups.
Just hours earlier, a Supreme Court issued a one-day residency warrant for the deportation of 1,200 migrants from Myanmar to hear an appeal from Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia that refugees, asylum seekers and minors were among those sent back.
Immigration chief Khairul Dzaimee Daud said the 1,086 had agreed to voluntarily return home on three Myanmar naval vessels.
He stressed that they were all Myanmar nationals who were detained last year and did not include Muslim ethnic Rohingya refugees or asylum seekers.
« Everyone has agreed to return voluntarily without being forced by any party, » he said.
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The statement did not mention the court order or explain why only 1,086 instead of 1,200 were deported. Amnesty International called the decision « inhuman and devastating ». « It appears that the authorities carried out this shockingly cruel deportation before properly examining the decision, » it said in a statement.
« This life-threatening decision has impacted the lives of more than a thousand people and their families, and left a permanent mark on Malaysia’s human rights record that has declined sharply in the past year. » Amnesty said the court will open today Appeal and urged the government to reconsider its plans to send the migrants home, where human rights abuses are high after the coup.
She urged the government to give the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees access to the 1,200 migrants and to grant all immigration detention facilities in general, which the Malaysian government has denied since August 2019.
Amnesty International and Asylum Access said repatriation is tantamount to legitimizing human rights violations by the military in Myanmar and exposing migrants to further persecution, violence and death.
Malaysia does not recognize asylum seekers or refugees but has allowed a large population to stay on humanitarian grounds. Around 180,000 UN refugees and asylum seekers live here – including more than 100,000 Rohingya and other members of the ethnic groups in Myanmar.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August 2017, when the military took action against attacks by a rebel group.
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