The US voiced concern Wednesday over Malaysia’s deportation of nearly 1,100 Myanmar nationals and urged Kuala Lumpur to halt such moves. 

Speaking at a press conference, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price recalled that the move came in spite of a Malaysian court order barring their deportation.

“We continue to urge all countries in the region contemplating returning Burmese migrants back to Burma to halt those repatriations until the UNHCR can assess whether these migrants have any protection concerns before being sent back to Burma,” said Price, using another name for Myanmar.

He said as the Myanmar military “has a long documented history of human rights abuses against members of religious and ethnic minority groups,” the US will continue lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable population in need.

The 1,086 Myanmar nationals were sent back on three navy ships sent by Myanmar’s military, just hours after the Kuala Lumpur High Court ordered the Malaysian government to stop the process in response to a judicial review request by two rights groups.

Khairul Dzaimee Daud, director-general of Malaysia’s Immigration Department, said all of those returned had agreed to be sent back voluntarily without being forced by any party.

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