The Council of Churches of Malaysia is urging the authorities not to participate in the “disavowing of refugees” amid the government’s plan to deport 1,200 Myanmar nationals, in coordination with the Myanmar military.
“In this time of political insecurity in Myanmar, sending these Myanmar nationals back is to send them to an uncertain fate,” said Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary Rev. Dr Hermen Shastri in the 23 February statement. “The system of checks and balances, transparency and accountability have all but disappeared, and the fate of these people to be repatriated from our shores is to send them into a hostile and very dangerous situation.”
Shastri noted that any such deportation would be contrary to international law and norms. He also urged the government to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees full access to detention centres to identify refugees and asylum seekers and to ensure their protection and safety.
“Until such time when law and order are restored in Myanmar, and a democratically elected government is firmly in place, chosen by the popular vote of its citizens, we should not cast the lives of these 1,200 detained Myanmar nationals into an undesired and dangerous territory,” Shastri added.
Shastri also emphasised the teaching of mercy and compassion in the Christian faith.
“Since this is the season of Lent and we are called to spiritual introspection and to engage in acts of charity, what better way to affirm it than to uphold the principle of the sanctity of life and the dignity of all persons, created, loved and endowed with rights by God,” Shastri said. “Not a single asylum seeker, refugee and anyone else whose life is under threat should be forced to return to Myanmar or any other country where they may face persecution and even death in a situation of conflict.”
However, latest reports indicate that, despite a temporary stay of deportation ordered by a Malaysian court, the authorities have nevertheless proceeded with the deportation of 1,086 people.
World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca said that the WCC stands in support of the Council of Churches of Malaysia’s statement and its call to preserve the sanctity of life and human dignity and rights.
“The WCC fellowship’s stands strongly with the National Council of Churches of Malaysia, raising our common voice to call for justice and mercy for those seeking asylum and fearing for their lives,” said Sauca. “We call upon the Government of Malaysia to observe international humanitarian law and to not participate in the violation of fundamental human rights.”