10/28/2021 Burma (International Christian Concern) – The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) issued a statement earlier this week condemning Malaysia’s practice of arresting Burmese refugees and returning them to Myanmar, which is currently under control by a violent military junta.

Malaysia has expelled 178 Chin refugees since the coup in Myanmar, according to CHRO. The Chin are a minority ethnic group in Myanmar who face severe persecution for their ethnic and predominantly Christian identity. CHRO reported that about 15% of the Chin refugees who were deported had papers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that should have protected them from arrest.

Malaysia has been widely criticized for returning 1,086 Burmese refugees to Myanmar shortly after the coup. Bangladesh has also engaged in the practice on and off for years, despite warnings from human rights groups that the practice violates international law.

Returning refugees to Myanmar violates the principle of non-refoulement, a binding requirement of customary international law prohibiting countries from returning refugees to a country where they are at significant risk of persecution, torture or other serious harm. .

India, Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh have all returned refugees to Myanmar or suggested they would. In one incident, Human Rights Watch researcher Sunai Phasuk reported that Thai authorities forced more than 2,000 refugees to cross the border into Karen State just hours after Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan- ocha said his country would accept refugees.

The Burmese army, or Tatmadaw, seized the country in February 2021, causing massive displacement both within and to neighboring countries. Since the coup, the Tatmadaw has killed over 1,100 innocent civilians and arrested over 7,000.

Many of those who fled fear retaliation from the Tatmadaw for their role in protesting the coup. Among the refugees in India, Thailand and Malaysia – neighboring countries currently hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees – are members of the military and police who have defected after being ordered to shoot people. demonstrators.

Myanmar refugees face a host of challenges, including dangerous living conditions in the camps. A refugee camp in southern Bangladesh caught fire earlier this year, displacing more than 45,000 refugees and killing at least eleven.

“Malaysia must end its practice of returning refugees to Myanmar, where they face extreme danger from the Tatmadaw”, said Jay Church, International Christian Concern’s advocacy manager for Southeast Asia. “The return of these refugees shows a blatant disregard for human rights and customary international law. The international community must not lose sight of the bigger picture when pushing for change in Myanmar – sanctioning the Tatmadaw is good and necessary, but we must respond just as firmly when allies like India, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan break ranks and support the Tatmadaw. “

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